Local residents upset about potential noise and ugly eyesore 

By Michael Piasetzki

Anyone who has visited or spent time in Blue River will be the first to admit the main drawing card for its residents is its beautiful landscape surrounded by lush interior rainforests of cedar and spruce, majestic mountain peaks, and glacier-fed lakes. 

Not to mention its quiet and peaceful serenity which allows its residents the opportunity to live in a serene environment far away from the eyesores of huge skyscrapers and incessant noise and pollution characteristic of big cities like Vancouver.

This makes the news of a laydown yard recently built by Trans Mountain in the heart of the hamlet of 280 people hard for many to accept. 

“They removed all the trees in the lot. It’s a completely flat industrial yard now,” said Lee Onslow, a Blue River resident. “It is horrible. They told the residents on the other end they’ll have to put up with construction for years. All of a sudden they’re living next to an industrial yard. It should have been built across the highway instead of right in the heart of our town.”

The land where the laydown yard was built is owned by Blue River 2, an investment group based in New York State, and is zoned industrial. 

“This is not benefiting anyone in Blue River except for the minimal amount of taxes this company pays for a vacant lot,” said Onslow. “I can’t even imagine if I lived on that street. And what about the noise and all the clanking that will happen when they’re trucking in pipeline and equipment? Are they fixing the road in town after they’re done? There are so many questions but where are the answers?”

The Goat reached out to Trans Mountain, but did not receive a response by presstime.

However, Stephen Quinn, the director for Thompson-Nicola Regional District Area B, told the Goat that although residents like Onslow have a right to be upset, everything Trans Mountain is doing is completely within its rights.

“In its presentation of the project back somewhere between 2014 and 2016, Trans Mountain spent a lot of time with all communities along the pipeline explaining its proposals,” he said. “In that presentation a laydown yard was proposed on the site it is on in Blue River. That site is zoned industrial and is compatible. It’s owned by an American company. There was also a lot of information out on it in 2019, and again in October, 2021 there was an announcement they were going to go ahead with it. It’s part and parcel of what they have proposed to do.

“All the objections the residents have now should have been done when Trans Mountain was making its proposals,” he added. “And another side to it is there have been significant complaints about hazardous properties with people neglecting their properties leaving trees which are a fire hazard. That fire hazard is now gone.”

For its part, Trans Mountain recently sent out a notice in the mail to Blue River residents offering information about the laydown yard. The memo mentions the yard has been cleared for the temporary storage of equipment such as pieces of pipeline, will hold mostly pieces of pipeline and equipment, and is situated north of Stewart Street and south of 1 Avenue, between Cedar Street and Railway Avenue.

That however, hasn’t done much to appease Onslow and other residents.

“I agree nothing illegal has been done,” she said. “But I’m sure they could have found a better spot to put it. Another thing that bothers me about this is that we are getting a laydown yard yet we are not receiving any of the infrastructure upgrades that surrounding towns are getting. I feel like we’re getting all of the crap that goes with getting a pipeline and none of the benefits.”