Stanhope Organics can continue its practices in Central Saanich

District of Central Saanich reaches a settlement with Stanhope Dairy Farm.

The ongoing legal case concerning Stanhope Organics' noncompliance with Central Saanich is now over.

Stanhope Dairy Farm Ltd. and the District of Central Saanich have agreed to a settlement, allowing Stanhope to continue its farming practices.

“We are satisfied with this being an outcome. I know that there are some residents who have different feelings on this. What I would say is that the municipality weighed all the information and came to this conclusion and I think that the conditions placed are ones that we’re going to continue to observe and make sure that the conditions are honoured,” said Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor.

On Feb. 24 the British Columbia Supreme Court approved a Consent Order, bringing the second of two Court actions against Stanhope and the Rendle Family to an end, according to their legal firm, Cox Taylor.

A statement by John Alexander of Cox Taylor noted the Order “protects and preserves the agricultural uses” of the farm’s lands located on Old East Road.

The issues began in 2013, when the District of Central Saanich began the action against the Rendle family. The District claimed that their Land Use Bylaw restricted a number of activities on the property. This included importing food waste for composting on the property and the importation of bedding material for the farm’s cows.

At that time, the farm’s contract with the Capital Regional District (CRD) for collecting food waste from area municipalities for composting, was revoked. The CRD at the time cited non-compliance with the terms of the contract. Neighbours of the farm had long complained about the smell from the operation, as well as what they believed were non-farm uses on the property.

The District of Central Saanich stated some of the main terms of the settlement include: the defendants not importing any food waste to the property; they will not import any construction or demolition waste to the property, and; they will cease the sale and advertising of compost or composted products and will only sell or advertise manure or aged manure produced from the property.

According to the District, there is also a limit on the amount of wood waste that can be imported to the farm annually. There is also a requirement that it be used as animal bedding and a limit on the amount of bulk manure or eyed manure that can be sold from the property annually.

The District also heard from many residents voicing their concerns on industrial traffic, noise and smell from the property.

An attempt at a class action from nearby residents had earlier been denied by the court.

Kevin Fry, a neighbour, was at the recent court hearing and is disappointed with the outcome.

“It’s by no means anything resembling what we were hoping for,” he said.

Fry said enforcement of the order worries him, adding he wonders who will enforce it.

Ray Baker, a neighbour living adjacent to Stanhope Farm, said the discussion in court was disappointing.

“From a neighbourhood and a citizen of the District of Central Saanich, I’m quite disappointed with the way things turned out,” said Baker.

He said it seems the citizens’ concerns were completely ignored.

“What I took away from that … the only real change to anything is the fact that they put some wording in there to the effect that Stanhope will no longer be able to advertise for sale compost.”

Baker said something positive from the court decision was that the court stated that the farm isn’t permitted to do any food waste composting — which was the original goal of the Stop the Stink Group — or the Tanner Ridge Martindale Association. Baker said in reflection of what happened, they were able to obtain that goal.

A three-week trial was set to start on Feb. 27, but will no longer proceed due to the settlement.

Over the last two years, according to the Rendle’s lawyers, the District of Central Saanich has “incurred substantial legal costs pursuing the claim against the farm,” even though the CRD food waste composting stopped in late 2013.

This resolution means that Stanhope can continue to import material to be used as animal bedding.

The Order, they stated, also recognizes the need for farmers to have environmentally responsible manure management practices, permitting the sale of bulk manure from the farm, along with bagged manure.

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