Kim Poitras wonders what will become of the Transcona Trails.
The Larche Avenue West resident’s backyard borders the Trails near Day Street, but it may soon border something else — a cement batch plant may be built just north of her home.
West St. Paul-based JC Paving hopes to subdivide a lot near the intersection of Day Street and Valde Avenue and rezone the northern lot as heavy manufacturing for the plant.
Poitras, who said she’s received "hundreds of signatures" against the project as of Sept. 26, is concerned about the effect of the concrete dust rising off the plant on the lungs of those living nearby. She said it goes against the healthy lifestyle encouraged by the trails.
"People who didn’t walk before are walking every day," Poitras said, noting kids at the Transcona Jaycees Daycare Centre also use the trail regularly. "Why would you spend the money to put this trail here only to rezone (the land near it)?"
A public hearing on the project was initially supposed to be held at East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee on Sept. 17, but the matter was laid over until Oct. 15 to allow the developers to host an open house.
The vice-president of JC Paving’s parent company, JMT Holdings Inc., Tony Teixeira stressed the plant will be set back several hundred yards from the trail, and that the company is taking an environmentally-conscious approach to the project, as it has teamed with Miller Environmental Corporation.
Teixeira said to minimize dust, all driveways will be paved with asphalt, and dust created in the manufacturing process won’t leave the plant.
"The ready mix facility is equipped with a dust-collection system," Teixeira said. "It gathers dust, picks up dust, and actually recycles it back into the system."
Teixeira added the dust particles collected are used in the final concrete product.
Poitras’ neighbour, Betty Thiessen, said she tends to "just cringe" when she thinks about the project, noting there is noise and pollution in the area from firms like Griffin Canada, which supplies steel wheels to railway companies. However, she feels heavy industry so close to a residential community is unacceptable.
"(The heavy industry) is further down. This would bring it in a little bit closer," Thiessen, a longtime area resident, said. "There is noise that comes from there already. This would be more."
In a bid to minimize noise, Teixeira said the plant will only operate during normal business hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and trucks won’t go through the residential neighbourhoods — from Valde Avenue, they will go north on Day and east on Gunn Road to get to the Perimeter Highway.
As well, Teixeira said the company will be doing extensive landscaping on the site to beautify the area.
Thiessen, who hopes the site remains entirely light industry and would like to see the plant on a different site further away from the area, added there is smoke that comes from the Griffin plant as well.
There are other established cement batch plants in the city, but Poitras noted residents have moved into those areas knowing what they were getting into.
"It was our choice to live here. We’re talking about a change to an existing zoning law," Poitras said. "It’s a whole different ball game."
Poitras is planning a community meeting to be held Oct. 8 at Oxford Heights Community Centre (359 Dowling Ave. E.) at 7 p.m. JC Paving is holding a round table at the centre on Oct. 10 from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Teixeira said environmental and landscaping experts will be in attendance to answer residents’ questions.