Pole peeler critics may finally get some answers

Council wants answers from city staff as to how a controversial pole peeler plant ended up so close to a residential neighbourhood

Council wants answers from city staff as to how a controversial pole peeler plant ended up so close to a residential neighbourhood.

Three Duncan Bay Road area residents blasted the city at Tuesday’s council meeting, demanding why the pole peeler was brought in despite their opposition.

“That 1998 petition, stating we were all against industrial zoning in our neighbourhood, what happened to it?” asked Tracey Deller, the owner of Blue Spruce Home Park which is next door to the plant.

“Did anyone even look at it? Did anyone even check how much of a majority signed?

“I’ve been told by many of you ‘that was what the council of the day did’. Well you are all the council of the day today and you’ve got to fix this. You inherited all of it – the good and the bad.”

Residents are frustrated by the plant because of the high-pitch screech the debarker emits as it peels the logs.

The plant, owned by Northern Pressure Treated Wood, began operating at 5301 Duncan Bay Road on Jan. 23 and nearby neighbours say since then, their quality of life has been ruined.

Homeowners say the plant has destroyed their property values and the rural area has become a place where no one wants to live anymore.

Coun. Claire Moglove said she recently drove up and down Duncan Bay Road and listened to the pole plant in different spots along the way.

“I can appreciate your concerns,” Moglove said.

“I think the three delegations have mostly asked substantive questions and I do believe they deserve an answer. Could we get a staff report with answers to those questions?”

Deller said neighbours tried to get answers from the city last year before the plant went in, but to no avail.

“The city was closed mouthed about the pole plant, and we were left in the dark,” Deller said.

“Why was the city so intent on getting him (Mike McCollough, vice-president of Northern Pressure Treated Wood) in? Was it the tax dollars?”

Residents are also concerned about road safety on Duncan Bay Road.

“The other issue is the logging trucks going around the 90 degree corner on Duncan Bay Road,” Corinne Matheson, owner of Mystic Woods Landscape Design on nearby Gordon Road, told council.

“Many citizens have been forced off the road and have nearly been hit from semi-trucks and logging trucks.”

A logging truck en route to the pole plant earlier this month was involved in an accident when its long load of logs sideswiped a car, owned by Gordon Road resident Diane Matheson, parked on the side of the road.

“I drive down Duncan Bay Road nearly every day and do so with my heart in my throat until I am safely around that corner,” said Iris Paruch, who lives in Blue Spruce Home Park.

“I have been told that one of my neighbours had to back up the hill until he was past the entrance to the plant because the pilot car did not go up and stop traffic.”

Mayor Walter Jakeway said he had driven up the same road five times and on the fifth try he had to back up the road as well.

Coun. Andy Adams suggested the city look into getting a report from the RCMP into safe passage of the road.

In the meantime, Peter Wipper, city clerk, confirmed the pole plant does violate the public nuisance bylaw and as a consequence, the owner has hired an independent sound consultant to come up with noise abatement options.

The deadline for the report is Feb. 24 and Wipper said the owner is on track to meet that deadline.

Wipper added the city has received around 45 complaints about the level of noise coming from the pole plant.

In the end, council passed a motion to direct staff to come back with a report, in time for the next council meeting, with answers to questions posed by the delegations.