Critics of the pole peeling plant made a lot of noise at a city council meeting Tuesday night.
Gordon Road residents fed up with a pole peeler operation in their neighbourhood came to the meeting armed with stereos and sound recordings of the noisy debarker.
“We figured we’d let people hear it and let people know exactly where we’re coming from,” said Glenn Mills, who played a recording of the pole peeler’s high-pitch screech on his car stereo in the parking lot of city hall. “If the general public knew what we’re going through, I’m sure we’d have a lot more people on our side but we’re out in the boonies and no one knows about us.”
While the pole peeler sounds wailed, a contingent of about 11 protested for the third time, waving signs condemning the city for allowing the peeler to move into their neighbour.
Demonstrators stood along the side of St. Ann’s Road, beside the entrance to the city hall parking lot, before moving inside to take in the council meeting.
Inside council chambers, Corinne Matheson, who lives on Gordon Bay Road, played an eight-minute video she filmed specially for council.
“It’s easy to forget about us up there, so I thought I’d bring it to your attention,” Matheson said before letting the video roll.
Matheson toured council around her property, her mother’s property and near the Blue Spruce Home Park, to demonstrate what she, and her neighbours, listen to Monday to Friday.
But pole peeler neighbours in the gallery thought the video was muffled and were frustrated the volume couldn’t be turned up.
“That’s what I hear from my house,” said Tracey Deller, co-owner of Blue Spruce Home Park. “Come on, you can’t hear it. That’s terrible.”
“A little louder, that’s not what we live with!” shouted another, followed by chants of “louder!” “louder!”
To try and prove their point, one woman proceeded to turn on her portable stereo and play her own audio recording of the pole peeler, filling council chambers with a high-pitch buzzing sound.
Gordon Road resident Mandy Heinen said that’s the sound she has to live with on a regular basis.
“By the end of the day, you hear that all the time. Even at bedtime when you’re trying to go to sleep,” she said. “Even when it’s off (it gets in your head).”
The city has acknowledged the pole peeler owner, Northern Pressure Treated Wood out of Ontario, is in violation of a city noise bylaw. As a consequence, the owner is working to implement sound reduction measures as recommended by a consultant.
The city received the owner’s permit application for the alterations on April 27 but there’s been a delay, said Acting City Manager Ron Neufeld.
“In reviewing those applications staff did identify there were inconsistencies between what was proposed and what was recommended in the sound consultant’s report,” Neufeld said. “We sent those applications back to ensure those plans are completely consistent with the sound engineer’s recommendations.”
Neufeld said those changes are nearly complete and he expects the permits to be issued shortly. Once the permit is secured, the owner has indicated it will take between two to three weeks to build the necessary sound reduction pieces, which include tunnels for both in and out log feeds in the peeler.
Coun. Claire Moglove tried to smooth things over with the frustrated residents that filled council chambers Tuesday night.
“I want to make it clear, to everyone here that I, we, have not forgotten the situation you’re in,” Moglove said. “We’re in the midst of a process of enforcing the city bylaw. I understand that Corinne, you said (the tunnels) won’t make a difference but whether it will or whether it won’t, we have to know that first. If it doesn’t make a difference, I for one will be seeking other options from staff.”
That received applause from the gallery, which wasn’t as kind to Coun.
Larry Samson, filling in for Mayor Walter Jakeway who was in Penticton for a mayoral caucus.