Residents fed up with noise

Ledcor expansion plans put on hold until issues resolved

Ledcor Resources and Transportation Ltd. will have to find a way to reduce the noise at its current Silverdale facility before it can expand.

Mission council voted unanimously to withhold third reading of a zoning amending bylaw that would grow Ledcor’s current operations at 29960 Lougheed Highway by adding a second barge loading facility on adjacent lands.

Residents in the area alerted municipal hall to the noise and dust issues last month at a separate public hearing on creating a new zone to accommodate businesses with barge loading facilities along the Fraser River.

Ledcor is located west of Chester Street on the south side of the Lougheed Highway on a property about 15 acres in size. According to a district staff report, the operation barges hog fuel to Port Mellon for electrical power generation, and wood chips to make kraft pulp for paper products.

Trucks unload at the site any time during the day or night, and according to those who live nearby, it’s not uncommon for operators to bang the trailers at 3 a.m. to get the last bit of product out of the containers.

To demonstrate what the activity sounds like, Jamie Mitchell, who lives north of the existing facility, beat a metal barrel with a hammer 10 times inside council chambers.

The banging happens at all hours of the night and day all year round, not just in the winter when hog fuel can freeze to the trailers, he said.

“It’s frustrating,” added Mitchell, noting the constant interruption to his sleep takes a toll on his health and sleeping habits.

Mitchell has lived in the area for the past 15 years, but believes the noise and dust levels have become worse over the past three or four years.

Marueen Rattary, who has lived in the area for 26 years, also agrees. She told council of the night she couldn’t put up with the noise any more and blocked the entrance to the driveway for trucks one night.

None of the half-dozen speakers opposed the business Monday night, but instead, asked the company to find ways to reduce noise and dust coming from the facility and be good neighbours.

District staff say the noise is predominantly related to the tipping and bumping of trucks to remove the hog fuel from the trucks.

In the past, the company has had staff remove the stuck material by hand with a shovel, but project manager Ryan Finch notes there are safety concerns with that practice.

“It’s more safe to bump the trailers than to have someone go inside and shovel it out,” explained Finch. “It’s not easy material for someone to walk on.”

He noted about 40 per cent of Ledcor’s current business is hog fuel, and doesn’t expect much more bumping to happen with the expansion because the new facility would only accommodate wood chips which is less likely to stick to trailers.

Ledcor is looking at a number of options to reduce the current noise, and noted reducing hours of operation could be detrimental to the business.

“We can’t control who brings it in and at what time,” said Finch.

“If you have a guy with a shovel … seems like a cheap fix,” said Coun. Dave Hensman after hearing it is the company’s decision bump, and not a WorkSafe BC directive to not hire someone to shovel out the last bits of product from a trailer. “I don’t think the solutions for this are onerous and aren’t hard to find.”

Noise is a municipal issue, but dust is a provincial one and the company has been ordered by the Ministry of Environment to hire a qualified environmental professional to develop an action plan to reduce dust levels. The plan is set to be completed by Sept. 30.

Coun. Jenny Stevens made the motion to defer the third reading until the noise issue is addressed. Coun. Nelson Tilbury said he has a close relationship with one of the property owners and excused himself from the matter.