Duncan Bay Road neighbours say noise from the nearby pole peeling plant has subsided but that didn’t keep them from protesting the operation outside City Hall prior to Tuesday’s council meeting.
Guy Deller, who co-owns Blue Spruce Home Park next door to the pole peeler, said Tuesday night the noise, which neighbour Corinne Matheson once likened to “Chinese water torture,” is now “a lot better.”
Deller said he noticed the change in volume earlier that day and admitted the sound had “gradually been getting quieter after they took off three of the six blades” on the debarker.
“It went from a high, screechy sound to a BC Ferries horn,” Deller said. This week the noise was cut down even further, to a level that Deller said residents can live with.
Pete Wipper, city clerk, said the improvements are thanks to noise abatement measures which were completed Tuesday morning.
The modifications include tunnels on both log feed ends of the debarker as well as vinyl curtains on the building that encloses the machine. In March, the city requested pole peeler owner Northern Pressure Treated Wood implement the noise abatements in response to the plant’s violation of the city’s nuisance bylaw since January. However, construction was delayed after construction blueprints didn’t match the sound consultant’s noise abatement recommendations.
Wipper said now that the tunnels and vinyl strips are installed, the sound consultant will take decibel readings from different sites in and around the pole peeler and submit them in a report signing off on the improvements to the plant owner. That report will then be forwarded to city council.
Wipper said so far the response to the improvements has been positive.
“I have received two reports from residents that say the sound has been greatly reduced and they’re very pleased with the results,” he said.
However, there are still outstanding issues, including traffic and dust generated by the plant. The noise is also not completely resolved.
Deller said when the poles, or logs, are dropped the ground shakes.
His wife, Tracey Deller, said that “is still unacceptable.”
Nora Henry, who lives in Blue Spruce Home Park, described the sound in a letter to B.C. Minister Ida Chong.
“I sat here this morning, listening to the thundering noise of logs rolling on the ground all morning,” wrote Henry. “It felt like mini earthquakes and sounded like bombs going off.”
Residents are also concerned about the logging trucks that round the 90 degree corner on Duncan Bay Road and the safety of residents who have had to back up for trucks coming around the sharp bend.
The city said it’s working with the RCMP, the provincial safety branch and the plant operator to inform contractors transporting logs to apply for and be issued permits for oversized vehicles. The city said drivers have also been made aware they can only use Duncan Bay Road to Highway 19 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and they must have a pilot car if the load of the vehicle/trailer combination crosses the centre line of the road.
As for the dust, Deller said the local health officer and the Ministry of Environment have both said it will look into the issue. He said the plant has been watering down areas of the plant but have left one large pile of dirt dry.
Tracey Deller said the bottom line is that the pole peeler should never have been located so close to a residential neighbourhood, and that the plant’s development permit was issued without collecting all pertinent information.
“The permit – that’s still our big concern,” she said. “Too many unanswered questions.”
The city maintains the permit was issued correctly, with all the required information collected.