New YVR cargo facility could destroy this Richmond community

Richmond News


The construction of a giant cargo facility at YVR could be the last straw for life as Burkeville residents know it.

Vancouver Airport Authority (VAA) is planning the three-storey building on green space it owns immediately to the west of the 328-home community on Sea Island.

Burkeville residents are fighting against the construction of a new cargo facility a few hundred metres from their backyard and school. Photo by Alan Campbell

The move, say the residents, will bring cargo aircraft and associated operations within 300 metres of their backyards and Sea Island elementary.

VAA contends aircraft will come no closer than they do already and are offering to beautify and develop the Templeton corridor for the benefit of the community.

For the residents of Burkeville, however, it’s not so much the loss of the 10-acre space they know as Templeton Park, it’s the loss of a “vital buffer zone” for noise pollution from the airport.

“We live in Burkeville, we get it, we are used to the noise of aircraft taking off and landing, no problem,” said long-term resident Andrew Baxter.

“But we need that noise buffer for the operational stuff; this is coming too close now. It’s not the loss of the park space, it’s that buffer.

“They can keep all their corridor improvements, we don’t need them. We have constantly asked why this can’t go elsewhere on YVR property.”

Dave Welters, who has been at the forefront of the residents’ protest, said he remembers when baseball used to be played at the park, before “YVR told them to find elsewhere to play.”

“The park was meant as a buffer for the noise from the cargo facilities that are already there. It was placed there by the founder of Burkeville in about 1943,” said Welters, who has called Burkeville home for more than 20 years.

“People walk their dogs there, there are mature trees, it’s a lovely space. We’ve went to all 328 houses in Burkeville and 305 residents have signed the petition against this.

“YVR are quick to say they’re all about community involvement and they’ve done a survey and all that.

“There’s going to be a three-storey hangar, 300 feet from my back door; there’s going to be lots more noise and health concerns. It’s going to make Burkeville uninhabitable.”

At the moment, says Welters, there’s about 2,000 feet between the nearest Burkeville home and the FedEx building.

Welters guesses that FedEx, Amazon or Purolator are going to be housed in the new facility, but YVR, he says, are keeping quiet on the occupant.

A spokesman for YVR said the airport, as part of the Templeton Corridor design, plans to increase connectivity by improving and expanding the area’s path network to “make it safer, easier and more pleasant to access the Canada Line, Flight Path Par, and the Sea Island and Richmond trail and cycling network.”

As far as noise mitigation is concerned, the spokesman said the airport has undertaken technical analyses to look at potential impacts of the project.

As part of that, YVR completed a project noise assessment in 2017 that applied Health Canada guidelines and is “fully compliant with Health Canada processes.”

The noise study, according to the airport, concluded there would be “no significant change to current noise levels because the proposed development is similar to its current use. The new building will be oriented to provide a natural noise barrier between the aircraft and the community.

“Noise from aircraft engines will be oriented to the west, away from the community; and, smaller cargo vehicles will load and unload inside the building.”

Preliminary concept designs for the building, say YVR, have it at between six and 12 metres high.

Melissa Gervais (left) and Andrew Baxter look out Tuesday onto the 10-acre Templeton Park, where the cargo facility is planned on airport land. Photo by Alan Campbell.

According to the project’s website, five alternative sites were explored, but the selected location had the least “environmental impacts and most “manageable community impacts.”

More than 100 residents showed up at an information meeting last Thursday at a hotel near the airport.

However, residents dismissed it as more “window dressing” from YVR on a project which is “going ahead, no matter what.”

“We’re going to get banners put on the backyard fences; we’re going to start naming names,” warned Welters.