Harvest Power, a compost company that handles organic waste, runs a facility in B.C. located across the Fraser River, but odour from its operations occasionally spills into Vancouver, according to Metro Vancouver.
That facility, formerly known as Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre, will likely be categorized as a high-risk in a new odour bylaw being drafted by the regional district. Public consultation on the proposed bylaw is expected to start this fall, but affected industries have already been notified of what’s coming.
Ray Robb, Metro Vancouver’s manager of regulation and enforcement division, said companies labelled high risk include Harvest Power and Vancouver’s West Coast Reduction rendering plant.
High-risk facilities would face fees based on the number of people affected by unpleasant smells. For example, the business with the largest number of odour complaints could pay as much as $110,000—a figure roughly equivalent to Metro Vancouver’s costs for responding to odour complaints in a typical year.
Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre has been the focus of 54 complaints so far this year.
“Of those, we have confirmed 27 are due to Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre. We also anticipate that other complaints that may have listed some other company as a suspect will actually be Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre as the likely suspect after we review wind data and other information,” Robb said.
Jeff Leech, Harvest Power’s regional vice president, said the company is working with Metro Vancouver to deal with the issue and is having internal discussions about responding to the proposed bylaw. “We are concerned. We definitely don’t want to be an odour generator in the Metro Vancouver area and we’re working right now towards some initiatives at our site to help minimize any odour that we’re generating from our facilities,” he said.
West Coast Reduction president and CEO Barry Glotman is frustrated the company is often singled out for odour problems and said it’s made huge improvements over the years.
He said it’s one of the greenest industries in B.C. and serves a valuable purpose by recycling tonnes of agricultural waste.
The company is concerned about the proposed bylaw and that it will measure based on a odour units—a method the Environmental Appeal Board rejected.
Ken Ingram, West Coast Reduction’s environmental and technical services adviser, called the company a leader in odour management and said in an email to the Courier the bylaw fails to consider the sustainability of the region as a whole.
“Those businesses to be designated by Metro Vancouver as ‘high risk’ for the most part are those businesses playing a crucial role in sustainable agriculture and waste minimization in B.C. We can enjoy sustainability in B.C. but not through this type of regulatory overreach,” he said.Robb argues a bylaw is necessary.
“I would argue that it is exactly for the sustainability reasons that we are doing this. We want to make sure that the public remains steadfast in their support of diversion or organics and is not saying, ‘Sorry this is too high a price to pay.’”