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‘Lipstick on a pig’: Burnaby man fed up with city’s new $76M works yard blocking his view

Neighbour says city isn't listening to the concerns of area residents as construction continues.

A local resident is increasingly frustrated with the City of Burnaby’s $76-million rebuild of its works yard, saying the new facility blocks the neighbourhood’s mountain views and looks more like a manufacturing facility rather than a maintenance site despite efforts to beautify it.

Gord Berndt lives across the street from the Laurel Street Works Yard at 5780 Laurel St., which is nearing the end of its five-year upgrade. The new facility includes a four-storey building for welding, paint and carpentry shops, among other light industrial processes.

Berndt, who owns four properties on one block bordering the works yard, doesn’t think that the city has taken his concerns about the development into account, adding that he’s lost a lot of livability.

“Through the process here, we weren't even involved in the actual planning or anything,” Berndt said. “We were told that this is what they're going to build, and we're moving ahead. And basically, your opinion doesn't matter.”

Berndt has met with city staff, councillors and the mayor several times since 2017 when the project was approved.

He’s concerned fumes from the welding and carpentry shops will affect residents in the area, which is also located a block away from the Trans-Canada Highway.

“They've also got a welding shop, which you could imagine the slag and the fumes coming off of that,” he said.

The City of Burnaby told the NOW the Laurel Street Works Yard has been in use since 1954, and operations like welding, painting and wood cutting have been in place in the location for many years.

“The Engineering Department reviewed and approved a sediment control plan before issuing a building permit,” reads a post about the project on the city’s website. “The plan ensures that we properly manage dust and other sediments throughout the construction phase. On-site wheel washes also keep sediments and other materials from spilling onto adjacent streets.”

Berndt worries the operations are now condensed in the new works building, which is much closer to the residents' backyards, rather than spread out throughout the works yard.

The upgrade is intended to bring the entire facility up to modern environmental standards, the city said, and that it has state-of-the-art air filtration systems.

The city also said it added a buffer strip of landscaping between the works yard and residences to give the area a more appealing appearance.

But Berndt calls the landscaping “lipstick on a pig.”

In Coquitlam, residents have also expressed concerns over civic works yards devaluing their properties.

Construction on the main building of the Laurel Street Works Yard is expected to be completed by mid-2022, and the remainder of the project by mid-2023.