Dust-spewing truck terminal in Ford City nixed by council
A dust-spewing truck yard does not fit into the revitalized Ford City, the councillor for the neighbourhood declared Tuesday as he successfully implored fellow councillors to deny an application that would have allowed the terminal to continue operating.
“I have been struggling with this transportation terminal for, it’s got to be five years now,” Ward 5’s Ed Sleiman said as he described the litany of complaints from businesses and residents upset over the dirt, dust, noise and traffic from the truck yard, located at Drouillard Road and Metcalfe Street, “in the heart of Ford City.”
He said permitting it would destroy efforts to attract families and businesses to the area.
Gary Dugal Park is adjacent to the site. Across the street is the Gino Marcus Community Centre and Drouillard Place, which are both gathering places for children and families.
“It does not fit into Ford City,” Sleiman said of the truck yard.
His motion to deny was passed with only councillors Jo-anne Gignac and Fred Francis opposed.
More than a dozen residents and business owners wrote the city to complain of the constant dust, dirt, noise and truck traffic.
“It was a nightmare for both homeowners such as myself and any business operating on Drouillard,” wrote Albert Road resident Bruce Shearon.
Another longtime resident, Robert Lessard, said the dust from the trucks threatens the health of residents.
“I live about a five-minute walk to the Garry Dugal Park. However, I am forced to drive my car to avoid the rock and dust storm that is created when a truck enters the yard,” he said. “If I wanted my home and vehicle to remain clean from the dust that is caused from the trucks I would have to wash them once a day.”
Idella Lazar, who has lived on nearby Hickory Road for almost 50 years, said the property has been a source of complaints for years.
“There have been fires, noise all hours of the night, no lighting, dust and the beeping from backing up,” she said. “I have walked Drouillard Road when a transport truck was driving up the street from the yard and had to literally wait until the dust died down. It was terrible!”
Sherway Auto Sales, located beside the truck yard, has been complaining about dust covering its cars for years, according to manager Mark Belanger.
“We’re basically just sick of them skirting the bylaws,” he told councillors Tuesday. “If they had been a nice neighbour in the first place and addressed the concerns it would be one thing. But they’ve done nothing but leave everyone in a lurch and disappointed with how they’ve operated.”
The company that owns the property, 4207785 Canada Inc., has been battling in court for several years with the city. The city accused it of contravening city bylaws, including allegedly failing to get site plan approval which would have required improvements like paving that would have addressed the dust problems. In the meantime, council passed an interim control bylaw last year that froze development of new transit terminals at many sites throughout the city while a new policy on these yards is developed. The completed study is expected this fall.
“Where they’re permitted and how they’re permitted is the general purpose of the study,” said Greg Atkinson, a senior planner with the city.
The company, which rents the site to trucking firm MTS, was seeking an exemption to the interim control bylaw so it could develop a site plan that would have addressed the concerns of the city and neighbours and allowed the yard to operate, said Melanie Muir of Dillon Consulting, representing the company. She said the interim control bylaw prevents the yard from operating without the exemption.
While Sleiman described the many community amenities — like a park and community centre — near the property, Gignac countered that Ford City also has a Ford plant nearby and a scrapyard across the street from the truck yard.
“The reality of the area is it is heavy industrial,” she said, adding that council can make paving the property a condition of granting the exemption. By denying the exemption there’s a good chance the business could close, she said.
“We’re willing to gamble that we may put the business out of business and eliminate those jobs,” she said. “I’m not quite understanding this because we’ve been fighting and investing for every job we could get.”
But Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bortolin said the truck yard is located in the midst of a burgeoning business improvement area which is moving away from industrial uses and attracting small businesses. He said the truck yard’s owner hasn’t addressed the many complaints.
“Even considering an exemption for this proponent to me is impossible,” Bortolin said. “They have not acted in good faith. They have not done the things necessary to mitigate any of the concerns of the neighbourhood.”
He said Ford City is the best example of why the city is studying where these truck yards should and should not be allowed. He said because Ford City is an “up-andcoming” neighbourhood attracting new businesses, “a trucking terminal does not fit in that area.”
This truck yard at Metcalfe Street and Drouillard Road generates a lot of dust and noise for people who live in the area.