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Residents fume over works-yard vermin

Neighbours appeal for help dealing with rats, noise and smell emanating from White Rock's works yard.
Carolan Southerby reviews some of the hours of footage that residents have shot of noise and other pollution emanating from the White Rock works yard. Below

Residents living adjacent to White Rock’s works yard are finding rats in their yards and kitchen waste on their decks – and say they can’t open their windows if the weather’s warm.

Concerns have grown since the city implemented, then boosted, recycling and composting programs, neighbours of the Keil Street facility say.

And, they’ve had enough.

“There’s got to be a better way to handle it,” said Diane Bradley, whose living room window vista is the works yard and all it entails.

Bradley was among about a half dozen Kent and Keil street residents who turned out to city hall Monday night, with an appeal  that some relief to the problem be included in the 2013-2017 financial plan – a bylaw that is expected to be adopted next month.

“We’re full of rats, vermin everywhere, (and) diesel fumes are killing us,” she told council members meeting as the finance committee. “It’s an assault on our neighbourhood.”

Director of finance Sandra Kurylo, in sharing updates to the draft plan, recommended the committee direct staff to review the residents’ concerns and report back in January.

“It raises a number of items and some of them really are quite complex,” she said of a Dec. 3 email received by the city.

Kurylo also noted $35,000 included in the 2012 budget to improve operations-yard fencing is expected to be carried over to 2013.

The comments left Bradley “satisfied” action will be taken.

“They’re intelligent people – how could they not see the health hazards?” she said.

It isn’t the first time neighbours have asked the city to take steps. In addition to this month’s emails, letters were sent last April and the previous July. The latest was sent by Bradley Monday afternoon, in response to a list of steps the city’s director of engineering and municipal operations said have already been taken.

These include a policy of not dumping waste on the ground; covering all open containers with tarps at the end of the day;  water cannons and flags to fend off birds; instructing staff not to idle vehicles; and a stop to commercial haulers before 7 a.m.

Closed-circuit TV is also being considered to prevent illegal dumping at the site.

Bradley, describing such steps as ‘Band-Aids’, said she is hopeful the promised staff review will go farther.

Kent Street residentsTuesday, she and other residents pointed to flocks of seagulls hovering over the bins, and shared video footage they’re compiling to give council an idea of what they’re living with.

Carolan Southerby, a resident for 41 years, said she has to check her yard every day for chicken bones dropped by scavengers before letting her dog out. A resident’s puppy choked to death on just such a scrap, she said, and similar waste is “all over my yard.”

Southerby said she was among 400 residents who petitioned a decade ago against construction of the $1.46-million operations building.

Gillian Murray said she has found a ham bone outside her bedroom window, and knows a neighbour who had a bone dropped by one of the birds land on her head.

Murray said it doesn’t make sense to have waste dumped in the middle of a residential area.

“I get rats on my back deck,” she said. “One day, I lifted up the barbecue cover – there was like 30 turds.”

Greg Makaroff said noise is his biggest concern. With more trucks coming and going, it has increased in the five years he has lived on Kent Street, he said.

“Maybe there’s cheaper ways to do what they’re doing outside White Rock,” he said.

The finance and audit committee unanimously supported Kurylo’s suggestion to have staff report back on the concerns.


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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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