A group of Calgary residents have launched another civil lawsuit, trying to force a local chicken processing plant (Lilydale) to slash noise and odour. The statement of claim asks the Alberta 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 a 2009 ammonia leak that forced several families from their homes. Alberta Environment has laid charges against Lilydale for the leak.
In 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a Quebec cement plant to pay $15 million to its neighbours, despite no fault by the company and a specific statute authorizing it to operate in that particular location. In St. Lawrence Cement Inc. v. Barrette, adult neighbours of a cement plant were awarded between $935 and $11,000 each for six years of odour, noise and dust, sometimes amounting to “storms of cement”. While St. Lawrence Cement had used due diligence, spending huge sums on pollution control equipment capable of excellent performance, the equipment sometimes broke down. This has set a key precedent for neighbourhood annoyance claims across the country.
According to Ecojustice: “Noise is the biggest issue for me,” said Lilydale neighbour 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.