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North Van grain storage expansion back for second consultation
A controversial plan to add a new wing of silos to a North Vancouver grain storage facility enters its second public consultation phase this week. And while Richardson International Ltd. says it’s prepared to make concessions to residents for dust- and noise-mitigating measures, the Winnipeg-based company won’t budge on the bigger concerns of silo placement or financial compensation.
“We haven’t changed the project itself significantly, but what we have done, though, is we’ve looked at ways we can mitigate some of the concerns,” Richardson spokeswoman Tracey Shelton told The Outlook Monday.
A company report released Friday summarized some of the concerns raised by residents and stakeholders during Phase One of public consultations in October. Chief among them; neighbours near the Low Level Road storage facility were concerned about the possibility of increased noise, dust and traffic in their neighbourhoods — not just during construction of the 28 new storage silos, but once they’re operational too.
The main source of construction noise during the first four months of the build-out will be from pile driving. But according to Richardson, the company will use a non-traditional vibratory hammer and hydraulic hammer combo — a significantly quieter method of piling, according to the report.
“We’re looking at installing extra filters and additional cladding to really abate some of the noise,” Shelton added.
Still, residents in homes closest to the site were outraged to learn last October they would lose their southern views of the inlet once the 50-metre-high silos are built on the east flank of the existing building.
Concerned the 171-metre-long silo wall would drastically lower their property values, many asked for some kind of remuneration.
“Richardson is not a public entity and is, therefore, not obligated to purchase land or compensate property owners for any impacts,” came the response in Friday’s report. “Richardson will not provide compensation to property owners.”
A second round of public engagement begins this week as Richardson moves forward on its application with Port Metro Vancouver to increase its North Van storage and shipping capacity from three million tonnes of grain and oilseeds to five million tonnes annually.
Richardson anticipates the construction phase will be delivered in two years, if approved. But that won’t spell the end for disruptions in the neighbourhood.
A study released Monday by the MMM Group suggests the new silos would negatively impact the views of 29 additional properties to the north east of the current site. Of those, a dozen homes on East First Street — the most heavily impacted area — would lose more than 50 per cent of their fields of view.
Those homes will also experience increased shading on their properties in the fall and winter months from the new wall of concrete silos.
The same study, commissioned by Richardson, estimated a 67-per-cent increase in railcar traffic rumbling through Richardson’s rail yard to meet the parallel increase in grain and seed output, meaning a jump from 119 cars today to 198 if the addition is built.
The add-on would also bring more weekend workers to Richardson as new shifts are added to keep up with the increased output.
The MMM study also considered noise impacts on the surrounding neighbourhood once the east annex is up and running. Its main concern was nighttime noise caused by trains shunting in the yard, which the study authors predict would rise from 118 shunting events now to 130 in the future. This, they said, would cause a 2.8-per-cent increase in the probability of sleep disturbance for those residents nearest Richardson.
However, with the completion of the Low Level Road realignment project, the study predicted noise from Richardson would drop off as noise mitigating structures like sound barriers are erected between now and 2025.
Richardson will hold two public open houses on the project this week at North Vancouver’s Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier; the first from 6 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 24, and the last from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26.
Following these sessions, public input on the project will be collected until Feb. 8, when the consultation process is closed.
“Then we will take all of that comment and again summarize it and take a look at it,” Shelton said. “And then we will come out after that with a final memo outlining what we heard and a final proposal for this project,”