Mission has created a new zone to accommodate businesses with barge loading facilities along the Fraser River.
Four properties, one in Silverdale, two in the old industrial area of town, and one at the south end of Nelson Street, have been operating as legally non-conforming since a 2007 zoning bylaw change that limited barge loading activities on the riverfront.
The zoning amending bylaw was approved Wednesday at a special council meeting, two days after a public hearing was held.
Numerous people expressed their concerns about increasing river traffic at the public hearing Monday night inside council chambers.
“The river is sensitive enough,” said Janet Chalmers. “It’s not a healthy situation now.”
Mission’s eco tourism industry is at risk and the risk a spill from a barge, which could hold as much as 120 truck loads, is too great, she explained.
Carmen Cairns noted her concerns about air quality, wildlife, and plants in and around the river.
Wendy Bales was surprised to hear studies have not been conducted on the impact of the local fishing and tourism industry.
Silverdale residents Bill Murray, Rosita Murray, and Jamie Mitchell live near a chip loading facility and asked council to help control the dust and noise that is already there.
“The dust is unbearable,” said Bill.
“Even with my windows and doors closed, I have to dust every day,” said Rosita, noting the furnace filters are constantly plugged up and she has to wipe off her kitchen every time she needs to cook. “It’s awful being there.”
The Murrays fear the problem will be worse if there are more barges operating.
Workers bang on trailers all times of day and night, on weekend and holidays to get the last bits of chip out, added Mitchell, who estimated the trailer is pounded up to 30 times.
Ryan Finch, project manager for Ledcor Resources, explained the business only loads wood fibre products and dust is worse in the summer because of the dry weather.
The company has hired a consultant to look into it and provide advice, said Finch, adding the company is also looking at ways to reduce noise.
“We’re not taking the issues lightly.”
Ledcor is located west of Chester street on the south side of the Lougheed Highway and is not one of the four properties benefitting from the new zoning. However, the company has applied for designation under new zone in order to expand its current operations and include another barge loading facility on adjacent lands. A separate public hearing for Ledcor is scheduled for Sept. 15.
Mission’s director of planning, Mike Younie, noted there are no noise restrictions in the bylaw at the time, but given the information received, it is something the district will look into.
Mission council will consider all barge loading applications individually. The bylaw brings the grandfathered properties into conformity. Mission council began steps to bring barge loading back to the waterfront last summer. The initiative was brought forward by Mayor Ted Adlem, who said he wanted to give business tools to create good paying jobs and improve the community’s economy.