Western Forest Products to install silencer following complaints over constant hum

By Dominic Abassi
March 25, 2019 - 6:13pm

Western Forest Products says a new silencer should put an end to the constant humming noise causing many complaints.Google

NANAIMO — Western Forest Products is taking steps to hopefully numb the hum emanating from its Duke Point sawmill.

WFP will install a piece of silencing equipment at the operation just south of Nanaimo in late April or early May, senior director of communications Babita Khun Khun told NanaimoNewsNOW.

Khun Khun said the silencer was recommended by an acoustical engineer, who the mill hired to study the issue following several complaints from the surrounding community and involvement by the City of Nanaimo.

"The reason for us engaging with those consultants was really to identify the precise issue so we would put in place a longer term solution that would address the concerns we've been hearing," Khun Khun said.

The constant humming noise heard around downtown Nanaimo, Cedar, Chase River and beyond began in the summer when WFP installed a new piece of equipment at the sawmill.

Discussions with the community and City led to the sawmill re-directing the noise, however that only prompted more complaints from Garbiola and Protection Island residents.

Randy Shalagan, who lives along the Newcastle Channel, created an online petition and spearheaded efforts to push for a solution.

He said WFP showed a willingness to correct the problem.

"For the most part, I think everyone was very impressed by the fact they have moved on it quickly," Shalagan said.

For Protection Island resident Jean Menzies, the praise is muted.

"I've read Western Forest Products want to be a good neighbour and that's all fine and good. But they know they're operating in a community with residents nearby," Menzies said. "If there was a sound mitigation option for their equipment, I would wonder why it wasn't put in place at the beginning...This should have been part of their implementation when bringing in a large piece of noisy equipment."

Menzies said the incessant humming noise "goes all night, all day...there's no getting away from it.

"I applaud they're out there listening, but the proof will be in the pudding. If their solution works, fine, but I'm not applauding yet until we see actual results."

Both Menzies and Shalagan said they want to see the City improve its bylaws to more efficiently deal with unfavourable noise from industrial operations.

Dave LaBerge, the City's manager of community safety, said the current bylaw is a "general prohibition" saying you can't make any sounds that tend to disturb the peace or the enjoyment of others.

He said he's not overly in favour of more technical bylaws which bring into account specific decibel ranges because sound has such unique qualities, particularly when it reflects off mountains or travels over water.

LaBerge said the City worked directly with WFP on the complaints, giving them time to find a suitable solution. Had they not been a willing participant in that process, the City would have taken other enforcement steps, LaBerge said.


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