Port Metro Vancouver has approved a $120-million expansion for two new 40,000-tonne grain storage annexes at a North Vancouver terminal, but neighbours of the facility are worried about the increased fire hazard, noise and dust.
"Our main concerns are the degradation of our quality of life and the property value loss that we will incur with this expansion," Michael Binkley, a local resident, said on Tuesday.
The new silos, which will primarily store prairie-grown barley, wheat and canola, will be built at the east end of the existing facility after three pellet bins are demolished.
The project is required because the current facilities are already at their three-million-tonne capacity, said Tracey Shelton, director of corporate communications at Richardson International, the company that is building the storage facilities.
"Global demand for grains and oil seeds is increasing around the world," Ms. Shelton said. "Emerging markets like China and India certainly have very rapidly growing populations, and their demand and need for food is constantly on the rise."
The company will be able to move more than five million tonnes of grains and oil seeds a year with the expansion, she said.
Forty to 50 permanent jobs will be created because of the expansion, and hundreds of extra people will be employed throughout the project's two-year construction period, Ms. Shelton said.
However, Mr. Binkley said residents have been fighting against the project since it was announced last August.
"And no compensation is going to be given from Richardson International or the federal government. We feel that Ottawa considers us to be acceptable collateral damage in the wake of large corporate expansion."
Now that the expansion has been approved, dozens of residents are trying to get approval for an increase in the neighbourhood's land density in the official community plan, Mr. Binkley said. This would likely increase property values because it would be easier for developers to rezone their land.
"It's time for the City of North Vancouver to redesign this neighbourhood in response to the massive growth of the industry on the port," Mr. Binkley said. "We feel that single-family housing in our area is no longer valid."
Duncan Wilson, vice-president of corporate social responsibility at the Port of Metro Vancouver, said the expansion is vital to the economy.
"The North Shore terminals generate about 12,000 direct and indirect jobs for B.C., or about $600-million in wages annually," he said.
"Through the review process, we have done everything reasonable to factor in the concerns that were expressed by the local community – including dust and noise mitigation – and we've left no stone unturned," Mr. Wilson said. "But we have to balance those interests with the bigger interests of the incremental economic activity for Canada."
Richardson International will adhere to strict noise and dust controls, including a net-zero increase in noise, Ms. Shelton said.
But despite the company's promises, many residents say they will still be negatively affected by the expansion. "Over the last couple of days, there was one time that you couldn't even see the ship because there was so much dust," said Leo Vanderbyl, a local resident.
"It doesn't matter what you do, they're going to jam this project down our throats," he said. "And that's exactly what they did."