Residents vow to stop the stink

Some residents of Central Saanich are banding together to raise their voices over odour coming from a local composting facility

Some residents of Central Saanich are banding together to raise their voices over a figurative cloud of odour coming from a local composting facility.

Stop the Stink was formed recently and 20 people met Tuesday morning in the Tanner Ridge subdivision to start the steps necessary to organize the disparate pockets of opposition to the current composting facility in the Martindale Valley. Spokesperson Ray Baker says Stop the Stink was formed about two weeks ago and have been approaching people like him and his wife, as well as other informal groups dealing with the same issue, to get organized. Baker said he thinks the numbers of people involved will grow through this effort.

The issue stems from the Foundation Organics compost facility in Central Saanich, operating for the last two years. At the beginning of August, the Capital Regional District suspended its contracts to deliver organic waste to the facility, citing sustained public complains over odours from the site. The CRD stated their contracts make up around 30 per cent of the facility’s volume. Alastair Bryson, mayor of the District of Central Saanich and chair of the CRD, told the News Review that the CRD’s actions are a  step in the right direction.

The District has been investigating the facility and the ongoing odour complains as a bylaw enforcement issue.

Foundation Organics has said they will be able to continue operating, thanks to waste brought to their facility by private businesses.

Baker said Stop the Stink’s efforts in writing letters and emails and getting information out about the problem, should help make it clear to both levels of government that people want change. While concerns over odour top the list of complaints, Baker said people worry about the value of their property as a result, as well as perceived health effects of the smell. He admitted he’s no expert in that topic and suggested it’s time the Vancouver Island Health Authority looked into the health effects of compost odour.

Baker said the CRD’s decision is a move in the right direction. He added he hopes the issue will spark discussion about responsible composting. Baker said to him, that means having the CRD take over compost operations in the region, ideally at the Heartland landfill.

“Right now, composting is driven by profit margins,” he said. “If the CRD does it, it could take longer and they could make sure it’s done properly.”

The Stop the Stink group, he continued, is working on a new website and they plan to tighten up the flow of information, while facilitating people making official complaints to the CRD, Central Saanich and the Agricultural Land Commission.

“My feeling is they are starting to realize the magnitude of this whole problem, “ Baker said. “They are certainly feeling the heat.”

— with files from Devon MacKenzie/Peninsula News Review