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Only practical solution to industry, residential proximity is new zones: report

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A civic report ordered in the aftermath of the massive Speedway Industrial fire a year ago suggests industries in St. Boniface are avoiding provincial licensing and inspections and probably breaking city bylaws.

The 29-page report was intended to develop options on how to isolate dangerous industrial users from residential neighbourhoods -- but it offers no concrete proposals.

While the report was ordered by ward councillor Dan Vandal to devise ways to protect residents, the report repeatedly concedes that really nothing can be done for existing industries that are adjacent to residential neighbourhoods.

"Existing businesses may continue as they are indefinitely, with legal non-conforming rights," states the administration on page 15 of the report.

Vandal (St. Boniface) said he was disappointed with the report.

"I am very disappointed it has taken a year to arrive at the same recommendation I suggested 12 months earlier," Vandal said in an email sent to the Free Press. "I would have expected a critical path ensuring that this never repeats itself."

The report will be presented to the property and development committee on Tuesday.

The report found that the province has licensed 16 heavy industries under the Environmental Act and identified a total of 39 industries in the Mission Industrial Neighbourhood, where Speedway International is located, as "flammable/high hazard occupancy."

The report notes that these industries can avoid provincial inspections by storing hazardous materials in rail cars on their property.

"The implication is that some operations will avoid Provincial licensing and scrutiny by storing and accessing hazardous materials (ex petroleum) directly from rail car tankers parked on their property," the report states.

The MIN is 940 acres bound by Lagimodiere to the east, Marion Street to the south, Mission Street to the north; and Archibald Street/Seine River to the west.

The report states that Speedway International had 16 bylaw infractions.

"It is not unreasonable to assume that (Speedway International) is not an isolated case and that there are many other properties in contravention of City bylaws," the report states.

Vandal said the report merely states the obvious, that the city needs improved inspections of industrial industries.

"I am no clearer today than one year ago as to which level of government is responsible for monitoring and inspections," Vandal said. "Clearly, the monitoring and inspection of Speedway was non-existent."

Vandal told reporters earlier this week that the report would outline how, over time, heavy industrial users that require environmental permits to operate, could be isolated from residential neighbourhoods.

But the report states the only practical solution is to create new industrial zones on the isolated outskirts of the city and restrict new industries there-- nothing can be done in the short term.

The report did suggests there is only one way to deal with industrial users: offer incentives to the industry to relocate.

Otherwise, the report states industrial areas could be re-zoned from heavy manufacturing to general manufacturing, which would eliminate outdoor storage. However, the report points out that existing industries could continue outdoor storage as a legal non-conforming use.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, October 4, 2013 at 11:20 AM CDT: Updates with comment from Vandal

11:48 AM: Updates with info re: "high hazard occupancy"

11:59 AM: adds maps

12:12 PM: Updates with full writethru

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