Sonja Kroecher questions why the public wasn’t told about a metal-finishing and galvanizing facility to be built near 186 Street and 25 Avenue.

Sonja Kroecher questions why the public wasn’t told about a metal-finishing and galvanizing facility to be built near 186 Street and 25 Avenue.

New neighbour galvanizes South Surrey residents

Metal-finishing plant suprises locals, after area zoned for such a facility in 2012

Residents of a rural South Surrey area are demanding to know why they weren’t told that a metal-finishing and galvanizing facility is to be built in their neighbourhood.

Sonja Kroecher, whose daughter attends the nearby East Kensington Elementary, said she is concerned about the potential emissions from Ebco Metal Finishing LP’s project, at 18699 24 Ave., in particular those from its “hot-dip galvanizing” process.

As well, that she only learned about it on Friday, when an area farmer with concerns was handing out flyers in a parking lot across from the school.

Kroecher said numerous attempts to get more information from the city have left her frustrated. It’s a project that residents should have had a say in, she said.

“I feel that people should know about it and have a choice to voice their opinion about it.

“They don’t want people to know. It’s just upsetting.”

According to Jean Lamontagne, Surrey’s manager of planning and development, council approved, following a public hearing, the bylaw regulating the site in November 2012.

That process included pre-council discussions on the possibility of Ebco locating on the site, as well as a review of the draft bylaw by an agent for the company, to ensure their proposal would comply, he said.

The bylaw allows for “light impact industry… an industrial use which is enclosed within a building and is not offensive by reason of smoke, vibration, smell, toxic fumes, electrical interference and produces no significant noise which in any way interferes with the use of any contiguous lot,” Lamontagne said by email.

Ebco will have to “fully adhere” to Metro Vancouver’s emissions regulations, he added.

Ebco officials were not available to comment by Peace Arch News press deadline Wednesday afternoon, however information on the company’s websites states its existing plant in Richmond “is equipped with up-to-date pollution control systems.”

“We work hard to maintain a clean and safe environment for our employees and the surrounding community,” the website states.

The development permit issued by Surrey last July provides for an approximately 2,980-square-metre building and a storage yard, and the galvanizing process is to take place “entirely within the building,” Lamontagne said.

But Kroecher and farmer Carl Thielemann disagree that a galvanizing facility meets the definition of “light impact industry.”

Thielemann said that even if zoning requirements are met, “that doesn’t make it right.”

Noting the site abuts a green belt, and that many trees have been cleared to make room for it, he said residents were led to believe the area would be a business park.

“They did everything to play it down,” he said. “We need some answers here.”

Bob Campbell, who is vice-chair of Surrey’s environmental advisory committee, said he is also concerned. He learned about the project from Thielemann last fall, and expects to bring it to the committee’s attention next week.

“I just want to see the proper process held and I want to see the residents in this area feel their safety is not at stake,” Campbell said.