A rendering of the proposed work camp behind the current Haysvale trailer park.

A rendering of the proposed work camp behind the current Haysvale trailer park.

Prince Rupert council told ‘no’ to work camp

A number of Prince Rupert residents gathered in council chambers on Nov. 24 to voice their opposition to plans for a work camp.

A number of Prince Rupert residents gathered in council chambers on Nov. 24 to voice their opposition to plans for a work camp behind the Haysvale trailer court.

Horizon North Camps and Catering is proposing to construct, transport and install two 1,250-person lodges on the former dump site to accommodate construction workforces for proposed LNG terminals. The company is also requesting use of the former Parkland mobile park site for an equipment lay down area.

Warren Murray, senior vice-president of Horizon North, presented renderings of the proposed camp at the public hearing. The lodges would consist of private rooms and have onsite fitness, cafeteria and laundry facilities, as well as Internet access. Murray said the lodges would come with its own security and camp management and would be a dry camp, with there being enforcement against drugs and alcohol.

Horizon North would connect the camp to the city’s water system and would treat sewage onsite.

A reoccurring concern from homeowners on Haysvale Drive was that noise, light and wandering workers through their property would decrease the value of their homes.

“I can’t really see very much noise coming from a workforce camp. Those people are working 12-hours shifts a day. They get back and have a certain amount of time to eat, and relax … and then they have to go to sleep and get ready for work,” Murray countered.

But a number of people speaking at the meeting pointed out that there would be a significant amount of noise coming from workers coming and going to work each day. Murray said most activity would take place early in the morning and early in the evening, with only about 25 per cent of the workforce working night shifts. To address uneasiness regarding noise, Murray ensured the property would be landscaped, with a perimeter of trees and a berm and fence being erected.

Ted Riel, whose Haysvale property is adjacent to the proposed camp area, said even if the developer left a 300 foot buffer-zone from his property line, the camp would still be located less than 100 metres from his bedroom window.

Coun. Joy Thorkelson asked Riel what noise he’s worried about, stating the camp would essentially be “a large hotel”.

“Basically the same noise that would be associated with a large hotel. People moving at six in the morning, the starting of vehicles, idling in colder weather. [Noise coming from the 2,400 men] at the camp,” Riel responded.

Additionally, Riel said the former garbage dump site would take a significant amount of money to remediate, money better spent for a developer to create housing. This theme was something Prince Rupert resident Tracy Wheeler also brought up regarding the proposed lay down area. Wheeler said because the site was formally a mobile home park, it already has the infrastructure for more than 20 trailers and is ideally situated near schools and transit.

But city manager Robert Long said there’s no advantage for using the site based on its current infrastructure.

“Given that we need to work toward sewage treatment, it probably doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense to try to develop new areas that would then go into our existing substandard sewage treatment,” Long said.

With the proposed camp having space for more than 1,200, another apprehension residents had with the concept was how much traffic would be using Wantage Road.

“Most of the traffic is going to be by buses. Most of the guests that would be staying in the lodges are going to be flying in,” Murray said, noting an estimated 30 per cent of workers would have vehicles.

A concern raised by a number of individuals was the possibility of methane pockets leaking from the former dump site during construction, but Murray ensured there would be geotech studies done to make sure it’s safe to build on top of the former landfill.  Murray also said he doesn’t predict there being any industrial run off into Hays Creek, but this is a subject that would be considered by the B.C. Ministry of Environment during the development permit stage of the project.

A worry of Cheryl Paavola was that the development would cut off access to two trails in the area: one following Hays Creek along the edge of the golf course, and another leading from Omineca Avenue to the base of the mountain.  This was paired with another concern that the camp would prevent people from using the road leading up the mountain, but Murray said the camp would not impede the community’s access to Mount Hays.

Student safety was also on the minds of residents, including Cam MacIntrye, secretary-treasurer of School District 52.

“The location of this camp is very close to the middle school and the high school … I think there will be a significant impact on the community and with the numbers of young girls heading to schools, from our perspective there’s some concerns that we think council needs to consider ,” he said.

But Thorkelson warned the community not to vilify construction workers.

“I feel bad that people think construction workers … are coming to town to ravage the town,” she said.

In the end, council decided to pass the motion to amend Prince Rupert’s Official Community Plan to allow for the new zonings of the land, allowing the next phase of exploration to begin.