Residents in a small North Okanagan community are declaring victory after industrial activities were sent packing.
The Regional District of North Okanagan board has denied a temporary industrial use application for screening of wood fiber on Highway 97B in Springbend, between Enderby and Grindrod.
“We have to be cognizant of the effect on surrounding properties. It’s not an appropriate location for this kind of operation,” said director Mike Macnabb of dust, noise, water and traffic concerns.
The board’s decision came after a public hearing Wednesday.
“There were nine people opposed to it and they had legitimate concerns,” said Herman Halvorson, director for the Springbend area.
The business had previously operated at the Highway 97B site without authorization but it has been at a property in Grindrod for 18 months.
“It’s now located on an industrial site and there are no problems there. It’s not like we’re putting him out of business,” said Halvorson.
Residents at the public hearing stated the previous processing of shavings and mulch on Highway 97B created hardships for them.
“Our home and property has been blanketed in sawdust,” said Caroline Powell, who lives next door to the site.
“The quality of the air we must breathe every day is hazardous.”
There were also concerns that contaminants in the wood products may leach into nearby Gardom Creek or two wells serving a mobile home park.
“Why do local residents have to continue to suffer?” said resident Chris Taylor.
“I live in a rural community and I want it to stay that way.”
There were also concerns that truck traffic would decrease safety on Highway 97B and that this operation could lead to more businesses.
“The precedent will be set for industrial in any other Agricultural Land Reserve land in our area,” said Howard Taylor.
The applicant defended his proposal.
“I do appreciate and understand our neighbours’ concerns,” Kevin Reimer told the board.
He added there are no plans for expanded activities and he’s taken action to minimize concerns.
“It’s not a full-time operation. In the three years I have been operating, it runs an average of 40 hours a month.”
Reimer said he explained his plans to the neighbours and they appeared to be satisfied.
“I believe I have been up front with them.”