Western Forest Products pledges to address noise from Duke Point sawmill

By Dominic Abassi
January 11, 2019 - 3:37pm

A view of the WFP operation from the Duke Point Hwy.Google

NANAIMO — Randy Shalagan has spent many nights hiding in a spare room over the last several months, trying to escape an unwanted intruder invading his home.

But the intruder isn't the type that can be stymied by fancy home security systems. That's because it's incessant industrial noise from a Duke Point sawmill.

Shalagan said it was mid-August when he first noticed a constant humming noise inside his waterfront condo along the Newcastle Channel at Cypress St. and Stewart Ave.

"A low to medium hum. Almost like a very loud vacuum cleaner. There are times when it dissipates a little but for the most part you can hear it almost every night," he told NanaimoNewsNOW.

"There have been many nights I have had to sleep in a room at the back of our townhouse which doesn't face the water because I just can't sleep in the bedroom where it's louder."

One sleepless night, Shalagan said he had enough and went on an exploration mission at 2 a.m. He traced the sound to the Western Forest Products sawmill in Duke Point. The plant is roughly five kilometres, as the crow flies, from Shalagan's condo and the noise travels a clear path across Nanaimo's inner harbour.

Shalagan said he spoke with neighbours and others in the area and quickly discovered he was not alone in hearing the sound, which he said isn't loud decibel-wise but is constant and seemingly impossible to escape or drown out.

After discussions between Shalagan, WFP and City bylaw staff some measures were taken to lessen the noise in late November and December.

But the mitigation steps redirected the noise directly at Gabriola Island, Shalagan said, which led to a surge in people from the island east of Duke Point signing his online petition about the issue.

"Many people who have signed the petition have also indicated they have problems sleeping and one lady indicated it was a health issue for her," he said, noting petition signatures have come in from Chase River, Cedar, Protection Island and all over the downtown area.

WFP, it appears, is not tuning out the concerns.

Babita Khun Khun, senior director of communications for WFP, told NanaimoNewsNOW the company is aware of the additional concerns since their original attempts to deal with the problem and are working to address the matter.

"It's a priority for us. We want to have a positive, long term relationship with the people in communities we're working in," she said.

Khun Khun said it's her understanding the noise is related to some newer equipment that was installed and WFP is working to identify a mitigation plan.

Shalagan said it's positive to hear the company taking the matter seriously, adding he's willing to give them some time to figure out a solution and put it in place.

The City of Nanaimo's noise bylaw makes no mention of restrictions or penalties related to sound from industrial operations impacting residential properties.


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On Twitter: @domabassi

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