A near-constant hum heard throughout Smithville is causing quite the commotion among some residents.
The “terrible” noise is coming from a Thompson Road factory for Stanpac, a food and beverage packaging manufacturer. The company installed a new piece of machinery in 2020, and the complaints quickly followed.
West Lincoln council has heard from numerous residents who say the noise is disruptive and keeps them awake at night.
Simon Musca, who has lived in the area for 20 years, said the noise is a low-frequency humming sound that can be heard throughout the town.
“When you’re sitting there and you hear buzzing in your brain, it’s terrible,” he said. “It’s super annoying.”
While he supports Stanpac and the work they do, especially considering all the good they do in the community, he said something needs to be done to remedy the “buzz.”
“It’s a known problem and tons of people have complained,” he said.
Stanpac's vice-president of marketing, Murray Bain, said they are working with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to find a solution, though nothing immediate can be done to reduce the noise.
“We hear everyone and we’re not just turning a blind eye to it,” he said. “We’re seeing what might be possible."
The company commissioned the machine in the summer of 2020 to collect and bale up recyclable paper board as part of the process for making packaging. It is an integral part of the production process and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Bain explained that sound testing was part of the commissioning process, and the noise of the machine was found to be within provincial government guidelines.
After the machine was installed, though, the noise drew complaints from some residents, so in early 2021, the company installed a sound barrier around the machine. According to Bain, this resulted in a “modest improvement” and the noise was found to still be within the guidelines.
“Nothing immediate can be done to reduce it any further,” he said. “We need to be able to keep people employed.”
Musca said the sound insulation “hasn’t really been effective.”
West Lincoln Coun. Cheryl Ganaan admitted she has received many complaints about the noise.
“I have been receiving a great many emails and phone calls from residents expressing their frustration with the loud, humming noise that disturbs their sleep,” she said.
“Our staff is co-operating in every possible way as the Ministry and Stanpac continue the process of trying to mitigate this bothersome noise,” she said. “Stanpac is a good, responsible corporate partner in our municipality and as such are most definitely working toward finding a resolution to this problem.
“Hopefully one will soon be found.”
Gary Wheeler, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, said they take “all threats to the environment very seriously.”
He confirmed that Stanpac has been completing work to reduce noise levels and has implemented measures to reduce noise from their operations and equipment.
The measures include the installation of an acoustic insulative wrap around the cyclone and a number of ducts, and a few smaller modifications as part of a plan to reduce noise from the facility.
“The company recently completed and submitted to the ministry modelled and measured noise assessments, which demonstrate compliance with the ministry’s noise guidelines,” said Wheeler. “These noise reports are currently under review by ministry noise experts.”
Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News