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Richmond noise robbing Vancouverites of sleep

City of Richmond say logistics firm is totally compliant with bylaws
Kim Wayman and other Fraserview residents want to lower the volume of noise from Ray-Mont Logistics, just across the Fraser River from their homes.

Residents are complaining about being kept awake by noise pollution from a logistics yard.

Only problem is, the residents are from Vancouver, not Richmond, and the company in question, Ray-Mont Logistics, isn’t breaking any City of Richmond bylaw.

The residents of the south Killarney neighbourhood say the noise from across the Fraser River from Ray-Mont — on River Road at No. 7 Road — has grown louder and more frequent over the last four years.

Although sound is known to carry easier across water than land, city bylaws do not make the transition as smoothly.

“Unfortunately, the bylaws don’t translate across city boundaries,” said City of Richmond spokesman Ted Townsend, noting that the area in question has been zoned for light industrial use for decades.

“(Ray-Mont) are in compliance with the city bylaws, so we’re not sure what action we can take.

“But we are working to try and resolve this as best we can.”

Many residents say they have been unable to sleep due to the sound of crashing metal and beeping trucks coming from Richmond across the Fraser River.

Kim Wayman and other residents started hearing the noise around the clock about four years ago. She even remembers hearing it one Christmas Day.

"I can feel it in my stomach," said Leslie Zien, Wayman's sister who also lives in the district with their mother. "It's a terrible vibration. When I go into my bathroom, shut the door and turn on the shower, I can still hear it."

Wayman remembers how peaceful the neighbourhood used to be. "We used to sit on my mother's porch and drink wine at night. You could actually hear fish jumping out of the water."

"There just doesn't seem to be much control in the area," said Ann Talbot, a resident of 15 years. In recent years, she has been sleeping with earplugs but is still occasionally awakened by the noise.

"I would like to see industry and residents work together so that they can live together, but I think a lot of what's happening there is all ad hoc. There's no sensitivity to the environment or neighbours.”

Tobin Postma, City of Vancouver communications manager, said the City of Richmond should be handling the issue because it's within the suburb's boundaries.

Townsend, Postma’s Richmond counterpart, said action is usually only taken when the complaint comes from a Richmond resident.

He added that this is not the first time the city has had to deal with cross-boundary complaints, citing incidents over the south arm of the Fraser River in years gone by.

“It’s not exclusive to Richmond though, it’s a problem in many other parts of the province,” said Townsend.

What people have to remember, said Townsend, is that the Fraser is a “working river” and has been, traditionally, throughout the city’s history.

Ray-Mont Logistics owns a major facility in the light industrial zone where the noise is coming from. CN supplies rail cars and containers while Ray-Mont operates terminals seven days a week.

Vancouver resident Zien has spoken with Charles Raymond, Ray-Mont's CEO, about the noise.

"He said he couldn't stop the graveyard shift, but one solution would be to buy air conditioning units for all disturbed residents," she said.

Zien said other suggestions Raymond mentioned include putting up walls, planting trees and changing the facility's entrances and exits.

"Ray-Mont Logistics is proud to say it always behaved as a good corporate citizen, and will continue to do so, as it complies with all industry standards and municipal regulations governing the logistics activities that have been taking place at its Richmond facilities," read a statement emailed by Raymond to the Courier.

Wayman and Zien met with Suzanne Anton, Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, on June 27.

Anton suggested contacting the mayor of Richmond and that the issue will require cooperation between both cities, according to Zien.

Wayman and Zien are planning a petition to submit to both cities. They hope sound measurements will be taken at night and efforts made to reduce noise. The area is being reinvented by Wesgroup Properties as the River District. Development will cover 130 acres and include 7,000 homes with shops, restaurants, schools, day cares, parks, improved transit and a community centre. The growth is happening over the next 15 to 20 years.

"All we want is to be able to sleep," said Wayman. "We need peace and tranquility some part of our days."