Neighbours threaten Campbell River pole plant with lawsuit

Residents have been driven to the breaking point since the pole peeler began operations

Gordon Road residents say they will consider suing the city if it doesn’t move a controversial pole peeler plant out of their neighbourhood.

Residents have been driven to the breaking point since the pole peeler began operations on Jan. 23. Neighbours say the high-pitch screech the debarker emits as it peels the logs is torture.

“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 on Gordon Road. “It’s so constant it drives you crazy.”

Connie Cawley says she is frustrated by the city’s attempt at mitigation. The city determined the noise level exceeds the public nuisance bylaw and has directed the owner, Northern Pressure Treated Wood Ltd., to hire an independent sound consultant to come up with noise abatement options. But Cawley says it’s too little, too late.

“It’s frustrating, we’re not listened to,” Cawley says. “I just don’t understand why it’s a constant battle. How heavy industry can be pushed into a residential area is criminal, it shouldn’t have happened.”

Residents are so fed up, they’re looking at taking matters into their own hands.

“We are seeking legal advice and have been talking to lawyers,” Matheson says. “At this time I cannot confirm any action to sue the city, though it’s being considered, unless they relocate the plant.”

Tracey Deller, who lives in the Blue Spruce Home Park located right next door to the pole plant, said a lawsuit is being discussed.

“Some want to go ahead and start with the legal process,” Deller says. “They feel it is a waste of everyone’s time to speak with the city yet again.”

Deller says many seniors live in the mobile home park and are now stuck, as they can’t sell their homes.

Matheson said the neighbourhood has become undesirable.

“The rest of us stand to lose millions of dollars in property value, lose our businesses due to the noise, and lose our sanity and health,” Matheson says.

Deller, who planned to speak as a delegation at Tuesday’s council meeting after the Mirror went to press, says she hopes it does not come down to suing the city.

“I’d rather try to work with the city and the owners of the pole plant, to avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle (which we will win),” she says.

Meanwhile, the city says the plant is operating legally, on land that is zoned for heavy industrial. The site manager of the plant, Bill Boutilier, told the Mirror vinyl siding has been installed on one side of the building that encloses the debarker, as well as plywood on the inside and outside walls to help reduce the noise.

Boutilier says he hopes to work out a solution with all the neighbours, and is waiting for the sound consultant’s report to come back, which is due by Feb. 24.