Industrial operations in Lavington aren’t sitting silent over noise regulations that could impact business.
Tolko and the Pinnacle Pellet plant have been the focus of complaints from some neighbours, who are fed up with the nightly noise.
In response to these ongoing complaints (which have also been made around farming), the District of Coldstream was looking at a bylaw to regulate or prohibit noise. But that is on hold.
“Do we really need this type of solution in Coldstream?” asked Michael Towers, Tolko’s manager of energy and environment.
“This (bylaw) could mean that the mill could be forced to shut down from time to time.”
Having been in operation since the 1950s and providing 558 full time jobs in Lavington, Towers urges Coldstream to consider all impacted.
“Balance the concerns of the local residents and those families that rely on us for local jobs.
“The mill really is an economic engine,” he said. “We’ve been a good neighbour and a good corporate citizen.”
Mike Molnar of Restoration Lands agrees with his fellow businessmen.
“It’s very difficult to determine how that may impact what we are trying to do up there,” said Molnar of the 450,000 square foot building (the former Lavington glass plant).
“We’re trying to provide business, to provide jobs to the community as well,” he said, adding the plant represents 54 per cent of the industrial land available in the North Okanagan.
But he does guarantee that the magnesium oxide plant will never come close to creating the same amount of noise the glass plant did.
Restoration Lands has pumped approximately $2.6 million into the plant into various aspects including LED lighting and 7.5 acre new roof. But Molnar admits he about four months behind schedule – he had originally hoped to be open in July.
Meanwhile residents like Stephanie Hoffman remain desperate for some peace and quiet.
“We as a community have made concessions to accommodate the industry around us,” said Hoffman, who just wants to sleep at night. “Council needs to give us some power in return.”
Jason Hoffman defends not only his wife and children’s need for rest, but for the workers at these mills.
“Those families also need restful sleep to work in a safe manner,” said Jason, urging the plants to create berms, plant trees and other measures that could help create a sound barrier.
Rose Breitkreitz, who has lived in her Lavington home for 35 years, says she can no longer sleep in her room at night due to the sounds.
“I’ve noticed the last, maybe, seven years noise becoming more serious at night,” said Breitkreitz. “It’s the bangs that wake us up at night. And it certainly wasn’t that situation when we moved in 35 years ago.”
The pellet plant says it is committed to continue working with the local community to address noise complaints.
“We have made several upgrades to our facility to help manage noise levels which included enclosing the hammermill building and retrofitting certain conveyors,” said Paul Pawlowski, Lavington Pellet Limited Partnership. “We have also worked with a local resident to plant trees in front of their property in order to dampen sound from the plant.
“We look forward to working with council and the community on noise management, but are concerned that not enough due diligence has been done to date in order to implement an effective noise bylaw at this time.”