CALGARY — A group of Calgary residents, represented by Ecojustice, is suing Lilydale over disruptive operations at one of its chicken-processing plants, and is seeking a court order compelling the company to clean up its act.
Complaints over noise levels, odour control, improper waste storage — including that of raw chicken parts — and a 2009 ammonia spill that forced several residents from their homes are outlined in a statement of claim, filed on Friday.
“This plant interferes with the residents’ ability to use and enjoy their property,” said Barry Robinson, Ecojustice staff lawyer.
The statement of claim asks the Court of Queen’s Bench to order Lilydale to stop night-time trucking at its Hurst Road plant, limit odour pollution, and fully enclose chicken waste bins. The residents seek $250,000 in damages for loss of enjoyment of their properties.
The residents also seek damages for the 2009 ammonia leak that forced several families from their homes. Last Thursday, Alberta Environment laid charges against Lilydale for the leak.
“Noise is the biggest issue for me,” said resident Robin Tufts. “The 24-hour a day trucking noise — whirring engines, air brakes, honking horns, back-up alarms, trucks connecting to trailers — makes it impossible to get a restful night of sleep. I haven’t been able to sleep with my window open for many years.”
“It’s difficult to invite guests over for a barbeque when you don’t know if the plant is going to smell like a garbage dump or if you are going to find a chicken head in your backyard,” added resident Todd Ford.
City officials share some of the blame for the ongoing issues, according to residents.
“The residents would not be in the position of having to bring this lawsuit forward if the city had enforced noise, nuisance and zoning bylaws,” Robinson said. “Despite several requests, the city has not taken any steps to enforce these bylaws.”
Thanks to a grandfathering provision in the Municipal Government Act, Lilydale is allowed to operate its plant next to a residential area.
While earlier efforts led Alberta Health Services to order Lilydale to implement better waste storage methods in 2010, local residents continue to have their lives disrupted by noise, odour and nuisance issues, making further legal action necessary.