Sound modifications on the noisy Duncan Bay Road pole peeler are nearing completion but neighbours should still expect to hear some noise once they’re done.
Ross Blackwell, the city’s land use manager, said the city directed the owner, Northern Pressure Treated Wood, to install sound abatement measures including tunnels and vinyl curtains, because the peeler was in violation of the city’s nuisance bylaw.
The goal is to bring the noise down, not eliminate the sound all together.
“It doesn’t mean the sound will go away, it will still be there but it has to be reduced to acceptable industry standards,” Blackwell said. “People will still hear the industrial operation but it will be quieter and meet the standard that exists in other communities.”
Critics of the pole peeler, most notably Tracey Deller who co-owns Blue Spruce Home Park next door to the plant, say the pole peeler should never have been approved in the first place. Deller maintains the city incorrectly issued a development permit to the owner and the plant is operating illegally. At a council meeting June 12, Deller noted the Local Government Act requires development permit applications to include “information of the anticipated impact of the proposed activity or development on the community” and all submissions must include a completed application and a written statement of intent, including how it will benefit the surrounding neighbourhood.
Deller said she was told by the city’s land use department that not all of the required application information is always collected, and sometimes a permit is issued with only the application form filled out.
But Blackwell said the city has done everything right and followed what’s laid out in the Local Government Act. The pole peeler plant falls under the Form, Character and Performance Development Permit Area – one of nine city permit areas a development can trigger – because it’s an industrial operation. That type of permit requires the city to look at how the operation will impact or benefit the existing neighbourhood based solely on aesthetics.
“In the case of the pole peeler plant, form and character does not extend to the degree and nature of sound generated by the property,” Blackwell said. “The aesthetic aspects of the development permit is that there is no significant impact aesthetically on the neighbourhood – not in terms of land use. Nowhere in the Local Government Act for a development permit for form and character (does it give) us latitude to consider land use matters, like sound generation.”
Blackwell said that once the sound is reduced and the plant is no longer in conflict with the noise bylaw the city has no legal latitude to do anything further barring another breach.