Will Pier 8 plan not pass the smell test?

Har­bour com­pa­nies, res­i­dents con­cerned about noise and odour prob­lems

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MATTHEW VAN DON­GEN mvan­don­gen@thes­pec.com 905-526-3241 | @Mat­tatthes­pec

The city’s plan to cre­ate a res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood along­side a busy in­dus­trial port doesn’t pass the smell test, warn some nearby busi­nesses and res­i­dents.

The plan­ning com­mit­tee en­dorsed a draft plan of sub­di­vi­sion and zon­ing bylaw Tues­day for a rede­vel­op­ment of Pier 8 the city hopes will bring 1,500 new res­i­den­tial units to the har­bourfront. A re­quest for qual­i­fi­ca­tions is un­der­way to eval­u­ate prospec­tive re­de­vel­op­ers.

The city is ac­knowl­edg­ing the sur­round­ing har­bour in­dus­try with a spe­cial land des­ig­na­tion that al­lows for louder-than-nor­mal noise lev­els on the re­de­vel­oped pier.

The even­tual de­vel­oper will be re­quired to sub­mit a noise im­pact as­sess­ment and rec­om­mended “control mea­sures” to the city, and in­com­ing land or unit own­ers would be warned up­front about the higher noise thresh­old.

But so­lu­tions for pos­si­ble noise and odour is­sues should be nailed down now, ar­gued Pit­man Pat­ter­son, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing grain com­pany Par­rish and He­im­becker.

“Ap­prove it now, study it later, fix it later ... that is not what plan­ning means,” he said, warn­ing the city’s cur­rent plan could spur “years of com­plaints” and pos­si­bly an ap­peal to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board.

The com­pany re­cently built a $45-mil­lion flour mill on Pier 10, just 400 me­tres east of the pro­posed res­i­den­tial rede­vel­op­ment. Pat­ter­son said the city’s own stud­ies sug­gest noise and dust from ship-load­ing and un­load­ing ac­tiv­i­ties could have a “sig­nif­i­cant im­pact” on Pier 8 when the wind blows to­ward the re­de­vel­oped neigh­bour­hood.

The Spec­ta­tor re­ported last year on har­bour res­i­dents’ com­plaints about wind­blown grain “clouds” from the com­pany. The Min­istry of the En­vi­ron­ment said it mon­i­tors the “fugi­tive emis­sions” and the com­pany had agreed to up­date its grain-load­ing tech­nol­ogy to try to help.

Pat­ter­son said Tues­day the com­pany does not op­pose the pier rede­vel­op­ment, but wants the city to en­shrine spe­cific mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures in the plan.

For ex­am­ple, he sug­gested “re­ori­ent­ing” build­ings to cre­ate a “noise wall” fac­ing Pier 10.

Chris Phillips, Hamil­ton’s wa­ter­front de­vel­op­ment point per­son, said the city would be “reach­ing out” to grain com­pany of­fi­cials to dis­cuss their con­cerns.

But he added city stud­ies to date sug­gest the com­pany’s ex­ist­ing noise lev­els aren’t an is­sue and that it’s rare for pre­vail­ing winds to push noise or dust pol­lu­tion from Pier 10 to­ward the pro­posed rede­vel­op­ment.

Those same stud­ies sug­gest the loud­est noise is­sues could ac­tu­ally come from piledriv­ing man­u­fac­turer Ber­ming­ham Foun­da­tion So­lu­tions, which is just 275 me­tres to the east. Phillips said the com­pany and city are vol­un­tar­ily part­ner­ing on stud­ies of how to re­duce noise prob­lems if they arise.

It’s worth not­ing, Phillips said, that peo­ple al­ready live near the sights, sounds and odours of a work­ing port. “The vi­sion Hamil­ton has al­ways had for the west har­bour is the co­ex­is­tence of a work­ing in­dus­trial port and a fan­tas­tic mixed-used de­vel­op­ment.”

Some of those ex­ist­ing res­i­dents, how­ever, also warned coun­cil­lors about pos­si­ble prob­lems.

Carol Hoblyn and Her­man Turk­stra, a North End ac­tivist, told coun­cil­lors the cur­rent rede­vel­op­ment plan doesn’t do enough to ac­count for noise, dust or other pol­lu­tants.

Turk­stra pointed out the city ig­nored Cana­dian Na­tional Rail­way’s con­cerns about build­ing homes near its noisy shunt­ing yards and was later forced at the board to change de­vel­op­ment plans in the Bar­ton-Tiffany neigh­bour­hood as a re­sult.

Hoblyn tracks fine par­tic­u­late clouds from wa­ter­front in­dus­try with an air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing de­vice from her 18-storey apart­ment on John Street North.

“Be­ing un­able to en­joy our bal­cony, or have our windows open, and be­ing sub­jected to un­wanted noise even when windows are closed has been our lived ex­pe­ri­ence since 2012,” she wrote in a let­ter to the city.

“De­vel­op­ing this par­cel of property without ... de­tailed plans for mit­i­ga­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues will be prob­lem­atic on many lev­els.”


Top, work­ers from Modu-Loc set up a fence around for­mer Hamil­ton Har­bour Com­mis­sion shed.

Left, work crews pre­pare the for­mer HHC build­ing at the foot of Catharine Street North for even­tual de­mo­li­tion.

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