Wake up and smell the compost

Re: It’s easier to complain than it is to support, PNR, Aug. 14

Re:  It’s easier to complain than it is to support, PNR, Aug. 14

I agree fully with Christine Duffield’s statement in her letter about the composting facility in Central Saanich that “it is always easier to complain than to support.”  Because that’s exactly what she is doing —complaining about people who are working to improve their community and who can use more widespread support.

If Ms. Duffield lived in the area affected by the persistent foul odours she likely would not have written such an uninformed letterabout “a few people” trying to spoil our land. Come on, Ms. Duffield. Check out the reality of what is going on at Stanhope Farm.

It isn’t a question of the facility needing more time.  Foundation Organics has been in business for two years now. The operating model is flawed. In the U.S., composting facilities have been fined, shut down and there have been successful class-action lawsuits with multimillion-dollar settlements brought by people suffering from the vile byproducts of large-scale composting. Residents in other jurisdictions have refused to allow composting facilities in their neighbourhoods for all the same reasons we must: the stench, the massive truck traffic, the noise, the leachate problems.

There are many issues with this composting facility. Foundation Organics has been operating on land zoned for agricultural purposes. Under a Central Saanich bylaw, the compost it creates must be used onsite.  They are licensed to accept up to 10,000 tonnes of waste annually. I find it very hard to believe it’s remotely possible for them to use that much compost on their land.

The odours created stretch well into the Tanner Ridge and Keating areas. There are approximately 1033 homes in this area alone and residents are reporting numerous issues with the smell on a daily basis. The CRD’s own bylaw requires that odours be confined to the boundaries of the facility where they’re created, but residents a number of kilometres away are being affected.

And there’s the issue of fairness: This is an industrial, commercial operation paying taxes as if it were a farm. The facility is located in an area of farms, residences and on the Lochside Trail. These are peaceful, responsible uses of the land now adversely affected by one business.

Compare this situation to that of the residents of Viewfield Road, a small neighbourhood that would have been negatively impacted if the CRD’s sewage plant had gone there. Foundation Organics is negatively impacting the lives of a few thousand people. That’s not green and that’s not responsible. We’re getting closer to doing the right thing by stopping this.

B. Bell

Central Saanich