Proposed industrial facilities face backlash in New Westminster
Published Tuesday, August 13, 2019 6:38AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 13, 2019 7:22AM PDT
More than 100 New Westminster residents filled the Queensborough Community Centre Monday night for a community forum to protest two proposed industrial facilities for construction company Summit Earthworks.
Hosted by the Queensborough Residents Association, the protest was against a project that would be built on land owned by the Port of Vancouver near Derwent Way and Salter Street, next to the Fraser River.
“Almost every person that I talk to that is new to Queensborough is very happy to be here. They want it to be a place where they can live and raise their kids and I don’t know see how that this project is going to make that safe,” said Starla Lowdell, a resident of the area.
Summit Earthworks wants a gravel storage building and a facility to temporarily store contaminated soil, primarily from construction sites. That soil would then be taken by barge to be disposed of in Mission. The proposed project is in a heavy industrial zone, but is directly across the street from a residential neighbourhood.
"Queensborough is no longer a commercial or industrial area. This is a residential area,” said Lowdell.
Lowdell has a respiratory disorder that requires her to wear a face mask. She says she’ll be forced to move if the facilities are built.
“You can’t keep these contaminants out of my home. I’m so close to it, it’s likely that I’ll have to move. For someone with environmental illness, housing is incredibly difficult,” explained Lowdell.
She and many other residents at Monday night’s forum were concerned about air quality, the buildings proximity to the Fraser River and increased traffic on the Derwent Way Bridge.
“Our concern there is it’s single lane in each direction with what’s estimated to be 130 vehicles per day, six days a week entering that facility, which means backlog,” explained Laura Ranalletta, of the Queensborough Residents Association.
The Port Authority says it’s taking community feedback seriously.
"We will be going for... taking this to another round of public consultation,” said Deborah Renn of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
Renn expects that public engagement will be done in the next several months. The first public notice on the soil transfer and barge facility was sent out by mail in May 2017.
“We recognize it’s been a long time since we reached out to the community on that. Unfortunately, the reason is there’s been a lot of a change to the application. We’ve seen a lot of amendments come in,” explained Renn.
Summit Earthworks did not attend Monday night’s meeting.