Thunder Bay·Audio

Taranis Construction quarry noise irks Surprise Lake residents

Gravel pits are worrying some property owners outside Thunder Bay, as some residents have discovered there are few rules governing quarry operations.

Officials say they are powerless in quest to get construction companies to make changes

Some home owners near Surprise Lake, north of Thunder Bay, are expressing concern about a new gravel pit run by Taranis Construction and say the company has failed to satisfy their concerns. (Lorne Taylor)

Gravel pits are worrying some property owners outside Thunder Bay, as some residents have discovered there are few rules governing quarry operations.

The sound of machinery in a nearby gravel pit fills the air, day-in and day-out, at Lorne Taylor's residence on Surprise Lake, north of Thunder Bay.

Lorne Taylor holds up an information sheet regarding the petition to get noise issues solved from a gravel pit near Surprise Lake north of Thunder Bay. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Taylor said he's asked Taranis Construction to reduce its operating hours, and the noise. But the problem is, he said, there are no rules in unorganized townships, and the local planning board has given up.

"Their hands, they throw them up in the air because they've asked, in this case, Taranis to apply for zoning or proper zoning, and they just don't even respond,” he said.

"[The operation is] absolutely massive. And nobody really realizes how large this is. And, it's little wonder that we hear it, because it's not sunk down … [to] shelter some of the sound."

'You'd better get used to it'

The chair of the Lakehead Planning Board said the board shares the residents' worries and alleges the company may have been unresponsive to the concerns.

"When someone tells you, ‘well, you'd better get used to it,’ and then walks away, that is not an attitude you want your neighbour to have,” Lucy Kloosterhuis said.

The board has no way to enforce zoning in unorganized townships, and no money to take the matter to court, Kloosterhuis added.

“This kind of thing is very frustrating because, although we could probably go to court and try to get these quarries and pits closed, by the time we do that, the pit is empty and completely finished,” she said.

“Or we're out hundreds of thousands of dollars and we don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars."

'No one can police what they're doing'

The chair of the Lappe Services Board said the current zoning requirements for unorganized townships have proven ineffective. The board looks after garbage, fire and recreation services for the area.

"We need political action,” Ralph Bullough said.

“This can't be dealt with [by] any of the existing powers … it's gone well beyond what can be done at the local levels."

Kloosterhuis added the MNR has no authority either.

“The MNR only has authority on pits and quarries in an incorporated area,” she said.

“So, basically, there's no one that can police what they're doing, and they know that, so it's become quite a problem in the unincorporated areas."

Taylor said he worries about what’s going to happen in the future.

“We fear … this is going to continue and, if they get their mobile permit to come out here — there are several that have it now — that they're [going to move] from organized townships out to the unorganized townships,” he said.

“There [are] virtually … no regulations for them."

Repeated calls by CBC News to Taranis Construction, were not returned.


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