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May. 20, 2022 | Friday
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Councillors want cold storage plant to move noisy AC unit
Coun. John Wiens chairs committee of the whole meeting Monday. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

After town councillors rejected staff recommendations to allow a controversial air conditioning unit to remain outside the St. David's Cold Storage facility, Cannery Park residents who have been dealing with noise and vibration problems said they were “relieved."

Angelo and Chiara Recine, whose home is less than 50 metres away from the warehouse, spoke at the committee of the whole meeting Monday and described how the large industrial air conditioning unit at the warehouse has affected their daily life.  They asked councillors not to approve site plan amendments recommended by staff.

“Our life has been disrupted. We can’t enjoy our backyard. You sit out there, and this unit runs 24/7,” Angelo Recine said.

After a sometimes contentious debate, councillors ordered the facility to move the noisy unit elsewhere on the property within 60 days. The decision still has to be formally adopted by council at its next meeting.

The cold storage facility at 365 Four Mile Creek Rd., owned by Alfred Dyck, provides freezing and cold storage services to businesses across Niagara region. The outdoor industrial AC unit is used for refrigeration purposes as well as for cooling the facility.

Residents said they have been dealing with noise and vibration issues since the cooling unit was installed in 2018. In response to residents' complaints, Ministry of the Environment’s staff visited the site last year to assess the noise.

Sound barriers around the unit went up this year but they haven’t helped much with noise mitigation, Cannery Park residents said.

Residents of 11 other households say they, too, have been affected by the noise, Chiara Recine added. Some of them wrote letters to council and the Recines said they were speaking on the residents' behalf.

“He (Dyck) just put the unit in place and now you’re subject to approving an amendment for something that shouldn’t have gotten approved,” Angelo Recine told councillors.

The owner hired a consultant to complete a noise assessment for the facility. The town also hired a different consultant to conduct a peer review of the assessment, which confirmed “conclusions and recommendations of the report (noise assessment) are sound, and if implemented should result in compliance with the applicable noise guidelines."

Angelo Recine pointed out there are eight condensers on the roof, seven of which have been decommissioned. He questioned why the owner couldn’t install the existing unit on the roof instead of placing it on the ground.

He said they knew they were moving into a house near the cold storage facility, however, the cooling unit wasn’t on the original site plan.

Coun. Allan Bisback, who has been addressing residents’ complaints, said he appreciated the staff’s work but he couldn’t support the recommendations.

He said he is “very, very concerned" that this is an instance in which the town cannot permit "bad behaviour."

Coun. Erwin Wiens said he took some offence to Bisback labelling it “bad behaviour.”

“Every business needs to expand. That’s the sad reality because they've got to pay taxes, they've got to keep employing people,” he said. “Are we supposed to shut him down? But how do we know there’s gonna be less noise on the roof? This is not necessarily bad behaviour.”

Coun. Norm Arsenault disagreed, saying he doesn’t buy Wiens’ argument and said the owner installed the unit without authorization.

“I have no problem with expanding a business. In fact, I encourage it. But when you do that, you've got to play by the rules,” Arsenault said. “When you do this type of behaviour this applicant has shown, it shows disrespect to council. I have a problem with that.”

His comments were echoed by Bisback who said Wiens’ statement was unfair and there was no attempt by the town staff nor council to shut down the operation.

Bisback suggested amending the staff report by asking that the existing AC unit, located on the east side of the facility, be moved to the south side or up on the roof within 60 days, that all noise attenuation acoustics be implemented and any future condensers should be restricted to the south side or the roof.

Bisback also requested that the owner speak at the council meeting about the potential impact the amendments would have on his business.

The amended report was approved, and council is expected to make a final decision at its next council meeting, Oct. 21.