Letter to the Mayor and Council of the City of Nanaimo regarding the Noise from Western Forest Products

Wednesday, July 15 2020

We are writing to ask you to implement a noise bylaw for the Nanaimo Industrial Park at Duke Point. The sound from Western Forest Products (WFP) has been an issue for people and animals living in the surrounding area since August 2018 when they installed a new large dust removal Cyclone which emits a low-frequency, highly irritating noise 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, The communities affected are Gabriola Island, Protection Island, South Nanaimo, Chase River, University District, Old City and Brechin Hill.  No surprise, nearly 500 people have signed a petition of concern, including 40 people in a very recent 5-day period when the noise was especially loud. We invite others who are concerned to add their names.

The noise is loud enough to hear easily during the day but it is especially loud and irritating at night. Some of us keep a radio playing all night, others have purchased “white noise” devices, many simply endure, some take medication and others are experiencing serious negative health effects, documented by their physician.  The mental and physical health effects of long-term low-frequency noise is well documented including by the World Health Organization  as far back as 1971. Specific health concerns include increased irritability, disrupted sleep, excessive fatigue, cognitive impairment, and degradation of quality of life and well being and more. Since March, we have the additional negative mental and physical health effects of COVID-19 which have been articulated by Dr. Bonnie Henry more than once. 

We are aware that Western Forest Products have tried several mitigation measures since 2018 which have not worked.  

WFP will be conducting new tests starting June 22nd but there is no current schedule for further mitigation measures which could be months from installation. There is no guarantee that this effort will be more effective than others. 

We believe WFP is acting in good faith.  

However, noise abatement should not be left up to any individual corporation’s judgement, nor is it acceptable for citizens to have to organize and fight against such invasions into their homes and lives. It is the City of Nanaimo’s responsibility to take action to ensure this problem stops and no more like it can arise.  We are asking the City to take action now to regulate noise at Duke Point and other Industrial Parks.

Finally, we want to be very clear that this is not about jobs vs community health. We recognize the value of industrial jobs to families and the community and want them to continue. However, we also want our lives to continue without having to deal with the health and nuisance effects of any individual industry or Nanaimo’s Industrial Park. The City stepped up to reduce water pollution at Duke Point in 1998 and we applaud that. Now it is time to step up and regulate noise pollution so we can all live comfortably together. 

~ Randy Shalagan, Numb the Hum Committee