“All of us are trying to do our job and do what we can to work things out with everybody,” says Bill Boutilier, site manager of Northern Pressure Treated Wood’s pole peeler plant.
Since the small plant began operating on Jan. 23, residents have been loud and clear that they want the pole peeler out of their neighbourhood.
Neighbours say the debarker, which peels the logs, emits a high-pitch screeching sound that’s driving them crazy.
“The constant sound is like your next door neighbour leaning on his car horn, it’s sort of like the Chinese Water Torture,” says Corinne Matheson, who lives nearby on Gordon Road. “It’s so constant it drives you crazy.”
Tracy Deller, who lives in Blue Spruce Home Park right beside the plant, says the noise is “horrific” and many seniors who live in the mobile home park are suffering.
“There are seniors here who have family elsewhere and want to move but now no one can sell their mobile home,” Deller says. “They’re trapped.”
Boutilier says his crew have put up vinyl strips in the doorway of the small, green metal building, which encloses the debarker, and have insulated the walls with plywood, both inside and out.
He says the crew of three who work at the plant were going to put up more vinyl but decided to hold off until an independent study into noise abatement options is complete.
The city has requested the owner of the operation to hire a consultant to come up with a noise reduction plan because the noise level exceeds the public nuisance bylaw.
Boutilier says he hopes the engineers, BKL Engineering out of North Vancouver, will come by sometime this week, as the city requires a report by Feb. 24.
However, it appears the measures already taken may be helping. During a site visit, Boutilier measured the sound of the debarker.
Standing roughly 200 feet away, Boutilier’s sound measurement device showed the debarker was emitting noise about 10 decibels higher than a person speaking right beside the device.
Boutilier also says a scaler from Sayward, who dealt with the plant when it was located at Kelsey Bay, noted the debarker sounds quieter now than it used to.
Northern Pressure Treated Wood Ltd., based out of Ontario, purchased the property at 5301 Duncan Bay Rd. in August 2011, after the operation was forced out of its home in Sayward.
The plant was leasing property at a log sort on Kelsey Bay when Western Forest Products bought the land, and needed the space the pole peeler was occupying. Boutilier says the pole peeler plant had to vacate by the end of September and there was a time crunch to find a new spot. He says the original plan was to purchase land at Menzies Bay but that fell through.
“The owner had six weeks to find a place,” Boutilier says. “He talked to TimberWest about the old mill site but they’re still doing clean-up and it wouldn’t be available this year. He checked up by Willis Road but there’s nothing of any size up there. This piece was for sale (on Duncan Bay Road), so he met with the city and they were welcoming.”
Peter Wipper, city clerk, said the owner of the plant had a business licence in place and a building permit was approved because the operation was in line with the current zoning of the property: heavy industrial. The property was re-zoned to be heavy industrial in 1998 and, despite a petition by local residents, the council at the time adopted the zoning that allows activity, such as the pole peeler plant, on the land. Wipper said the city understands the concerns of residents living near the plant, which is why the owner has been ordered to come up with a noise reduction plan.
“We recognize that a number of residents are upset, even distressed, by the location of the plant and consider noise from the operation a disruption to life in the neighbourhood,” Wipper says. “We understand that having the noise reduced is urgent for them.”