Neighbours of a composting facility in Central Saanich may rest a little easier after the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) sent a letter to the operation that determined Foundation Organics is classified as being a non-farm use of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The much-needed clarification on the acceptable use of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) when it comes to composting was made public last week and outlined some reasons why the ALC found Stanhope Farm and Foundation Organics in contravention of the Agricultural Land Commission Act. Included in the letter was information detailing that the 40 hectare property (34 hectares of which were available after use for access roads and farm buildings) was only ever capable of having 2,125 tonnes of compost applied to it.
That’s much lower than the 5,000 the operation had originally stated. The ALC noted the excessive amount of compost being applied to the land would result in high nitrogen content in the soil.
“In completing this investigation of the Stanhope farm and Foundation composting facility located on the property, the ALC has concluded that the information provided in advance of its May 16, 2011 letter is not consistent with the current understanding of the farm and composting operation. The ALC does not believe the current composting operation is compliant with the Act and Regulation and considers that the operation constitutes an unauthorized non-farm use of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve,” said the report.
Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson, who was eager to have the ALC’s ruling handed down said he is relieved the commission came through with a decision.
“I am pleased that the ALC has finally provided this much needed clarity,” said Bryson.
“The district agrees that it is important that the ALC outright permitted composting use and the resulting amount of compost is limited to a scale that can be beneficially applied to the farmland where the compost facility is located. With this ALC clarification, any operation that proposes to produce more compost than the farm can beneficially apply to the land will necessitate an application to the ALC for a ‘non-farm use’ which would allow for a public process including input from Central Saanich council.”
The CRD had directed the facility to remove any remaining compost in the building at the facility as of Oct. 25, of which the ALC was also in support of.
The report also stated that a stop work order would be issued immediately if the operation was to start up again without first obtaining approval of the non-farm use from the ALC.