CRD suspends compost contracts with Central Saanich facility

Foundation Organics still able to bring in waste from other sources

Ray Baker stands on his property which borders the Foundation Organics compost facility on Stanhope Farm.

The Capital Regional District had suspended their contracts with the Foundation Organics composting facility in Central Saanich.

It was announced today (Thursday, Aug. 1) that the CRD was suspending the contracts with the facility on Lochside Drive that accepts food and other organic waste matter for processing into compost. Estimates from the CRD are that the suspension of the contracts will see an approximate drop of 30 per cent of the facility’s overall waste intake.

“Our contracts running at high level make up around 30 per cent of the volume of the facility at a minimum,” said Russ Smith, the senior manager of the CRD’s environmental resource management, who added that the suspensions come on the heels of a high number of complaints from residents regarding odour from the facility as the weather has grown warmer.

“The primary issue that’s being dealt with is odour,” he continued.

“The CRD has been doing daily monitoring as well as cataloguing complaints and working with facility to try and correct the deficiencies surrounding the complaints. The bottom line is that we weren’t making sufficient progress so we’ve suspended the contracts until the deficiencies are solved,” he said.

Foundation Organics applied for and received a license to run a compost facility two years ago in June. Since then, the operation has been a point of contention for neighbours of the facility who say the smell, noise and dust stemming from operations is unbearable.

“The smell is absolutely wretched,” said Lee Hardy, who lives next door to the facility with her husband Ray Baker.

“I’ve had nosebleeds, I get headaches and nausea, my daughter had a lung infection. It’s just nasty.”

The company would not comment on nieghbours’ complaints.

Hardy said her and her husband take solace in the fact that the CRD is making moves to improve the situation.

“At least now we know the CRD is taking some steps in the right direction and I hope they keep monitoring and cataloguing what’s going on there.”

Central Saanich Mayor and Chair of the CRD Alastair Bryson said he’s happy that something has been done to let residents know that the issue is being addressed.

“Because it’s a bylaw enforcement issue there are aspects of the issue that have to be dealt with in-camera,” explained Bryson.

“What I can say is that I’ve been fielding a significant number of complaints from the Tanner Ridge area and the Martindale Valley from people aren’t able to take advantage the nice weather because they aren’t able to open their windows or enjoy their back yards. I understand the concerns of the citizens and agree it’s unacceptable for residents to have to endure an obnoxious odour on an ongoing basis. With the actions taken by the CRD and the release sent out to the media I’m hoping it will at least inform residents that there is a high level of activity on this file. It’s a step in the right direction and provides a little more clarity to residents.”

Although the suspensions won’t have an immediate effect on the odour front — it will take a short time for the current compost stock to be finished processing — Bryson said he’s happy that processes have been followed and residents are receiving the message.

“It’s definitely an incremental process because when you work with business operators you have to follow legal steps, but at least the CRD’s choice to suspend the contracts informs the community of some of the actions that are being taken to try and address this problem,” he said.

Matt Mansell, manager of the composting facility, said that the suspension of the CRD’s contracts won’t have a major impact on the facility’s bottom line.

“Yes, the CRD decided to suspend their contract that we have with them and that will have a small effect on our bottom line, but it won’t be anything major,” explained Mansell, who added that the facility also brings in organic waste from other sources including private business and restaurants.

According to the CRD, if the suspension of their contracts with the facility does not alleviate some of the concerns stemming from the operation (including odour) continued non-compliance from Foundation Organics will ultimately see the facility’s operating license suspended.

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