LETTERS: dodgy Industrial Hub proposal

JAN 21, 2022

Qualicum Beach resident Melinda Mueller, in advance of QB Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on December 9, 2021, submitted her assessment of the proposed industrial wood processing facility at Hollywood / View Road. — Editor

Mayor and Council,

It has come to my attention, and the attention of many of my neighbours on View, Hollywood, and Rupert Roads, that the Town is considering a lease-to-purchase arrangement with a foreign company to build and operate an industrial wood milling operation on 5 acres of land directly adjacent to the closed and capped Qualicum Beach landfill. To a person, we are all extremely alarmed by this possibility for myriad reasons, some (but by no means all) I will attempt to mention herein.

In the letter from the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection (Ministry of Environment) dated November 15, 2001, and directed to Robert Weir, P. Eng., at the Town offices, Ministry concerns and mandated ongoing procedures regarding dump closure, as well as all the concerns of downgradient residents/water users were to be addressed on an ongoing basis. Both environmental protection, and the health of water well users, was to be considered (and consultations with users pursued) if any activity was contemplated on adjacent land that could negatively impact surrounding property owners. This proposed milling activity will most assuredly impact us all in critical ways, and yet not one of my neighbours has been informed, let alone consulted, about this possible industrial invasion of our neighbourhood that is being proposed by the Town Planner.

Treed land adjacent to the old landfill provides filtration of contaminants; said filtration will be completely eliminated by this proposed activity. The Town has already operated a huge sandpit adjacent to the landfill for many years, thereby continually removing critical filtration materials essential to preventing the inevitable landfill leachate from traveling off-site. What are the Ministry of Environment’s opinions regarding this sandpit and its ongoing excavation? Does not this pit put adjacent property owners at risk? And if not, where are the environmental impact studies’ results that assure us that we are being kept safe?

Spring, coming soon to flower beds near us all. Qualicum Beach, BC.

There is a plentiful and healthy owl population living on the land in question and on proximate parcels, which will be gravely impacted. The land in question was reportedly once a place where old cars were dumped and subsequently covered over, so what previously undisturbed automotive contaminants might be released during this operation? There have been to my knowledge no environmental impact studies, or hydrology studies, performed in the area with this industrial milling operation in mind, so the negative impacts of this activity are not even known, or, apparently, wondered at, by incurious town personnel who have conceived and are advocating for this proposal.

The noise impact of this clearly industrial activity in a RESIDENTIAL area cannot be overestimated. The closed landfill is an open and untreed site; the din of logging trucks offloading, industrial bark-stripping equipment working, sounds of saws, and incessant beeping of machinery moving back and forth will all travel far and wide, impacting properties the length of View Road, down both sides of Hollywood Road, and all along Rupert Road on both sides of the street. Additionally, the noise will easily carry to the [Pheasant Glen] golf course, and to any homes the owners of said golf course might hope to build and sell in the future. No one wants to listen to a milling operation – no one. And that includes people living on acreage who have invested many millions of dollars in their land improvements, buildings, and even the livestock that is housed in them. Our property values will be grossly impacted, even as our health, the health of our livestock, and the viability of our ALR-zoned land upon which we live and upon which we cultivate our vegetable gardens is placed at risk of serious pollution.

In addition to the ongoing inescapable noise pollution of Rupert Road and the airport, we are being asked to deal with logging trucks invading our neighbourhood roads on a daily basis, and an industrial milling operation which is completely antithetical to ANY other activity being carried out anywhere in this neighbourhood, and which will surely destroy millions of dollars in property values for any landowner who lives within earshot of this business. I spoke to one neighbour last night who is already proposing legal action. Many in this area have the majority of their net worth and retirement hopes tied up in their properties here, and we would have no way to salvage our losses if the Town proceeds with this ill conceived and completely unresearched / studied idea. Additionally, is the Town’s liability insurance carrier prepared to pay for damages resulting from possible pollution by this operation, even though the Town was warned years ago against proceeding with this sort of activity, without extensive study, and without consultations with surrounding property owners who could be seriously impacted? It is my experience that insurance carriers are more than willing to receive premiums, but not shy about refusing payouts when the insured has proceeded precipitously, and against mandated government guidelines and in contravention of environmental laws.

I hope that the negative ramifications and risks of this proposed lease/sale agreement are carefully studied by all on Council, and balanced against whatever relatively small amount of financial gain might be involved. Surely there are less impactful uses of this land or, alternatively, might this land simply be left undisturbed, so as to continue to contribute to the enjoyment of the many dog walkers, horseback riders, bikers, and hikers, that seek out, and pay their taxes to support, our ever-shrinking wild spaces that we all very much value within our Town?

Respectfully submitted,

Melinda Mueller

Editor – We made reference to additional input from members of the community in the article Public calls out dodgy industrial proposals promoted by Town.

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