Pole plant noise report in City of Campbell River’s hands

The city conducted sound tests and found the plant to be in violation of the public nuisance bylaw

The owners of a controversial pole peeler operation submitted a report Friday with possible solutions to the noise that has area residents up in arms.

After receiving complaints from 45 people living near the Duncan Bay Road plant, the city conducted sound tests and found the plant to be in violation of the public nuisance bylaw.

As a result, pole plant owner Northern Pressure Treated Wood, was forced to hire an independent sound consultant to come up with options for sound abatement.

The city gave the company a Feb. 24 deadline to come back with a report.

Peter Wipper, city clerk, said the owner submitted a report to the city late last Friday.

“I was pleased they provided it within the timeline we gave them,” Wipper said. “Staff are reviewing it right now and will forward it to council for its consideration at the next council meeting on March 6.”

Wipper confirmed the report, done by BKL Consultants Ltd. out of North Vancouver, does include “things that could be done to the plant to lower the noise” but said the contents will not be made public until the council meeting.

Neighbours say the pole peeler, which began operating on Jan. 23, emits a high-pitch screetch that has ruined their quality of life.

Pole plant site manager Bill Boutilier said earlier this month the plant had already taken a number of measures to try and muffle the noise, including putting up vinyl strips in the doorway of the building, which encloses the debarker, and insulating the walls with plywood, both inside and out.

Boutilier said his three-man crew were planning to put up more vinyl but decided to wait until the sound consultants came up with their own noise abatement options.

Meanwhile, Duncan Bay Road neighbours are threatening to sue the city if conditions do not improve.

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

Matheson said she hopes, at the end of the day, the city will admit it made a mistake in allowing the pole plant (which is on industrial-zoned land) to locate so close to residential homes.

“I hope the city staff have the guts to do what is right and correct this very terrible wrong that has been forced upon this neighbourhood, by relocating this pole plant far away from any residential neighbourhood,” Matheson said. “I do not believe that trying to get the sound lower will help alleviate our stress, as even on rainy days when the sound is dampened quite a bit, it still sounds like a mosquito buzzing in my ear non stop. It is enough to drive me mental.”

Neighbour Connie Cawley, after learning the city had requested the sound report, said the city’s efforts are too little, too late.

“I think it’s way past time for a study,” Cawley said. “That should have been done before and they should have gone and seen other plants in operation, that’s part of (their) responsibility as a public official.”