A longtime East Side resident is complaining a stench he blames on West Coast Reduction’s rendering plant at 105 North Commercial Dr. has worsened recently.
James Hutchinson, who lives on Charles Street, maintains the smell has been particularly persistent and penetrating this year.
“The temperature has not been above normal so either the plant is doing something different or something has been added to the equation, nonetheless, East Van stinks,” he told the Courier in an email last week.
Grandview-Woodlands residents have long complained about an unpleasant odour that typically increases in hot weather.
Metro Vancouver, which deals with the region’s air quality, tried amending the plant’s air emission permit through limiting “odour units”—a method accepted in the European Union—but the provincial Environmental Appeal Board ruled in March 2010 that odour units are unreasonable and unenforceable.
Metro Vancouver staff then opted to draw up an odour bylaw, for the board’s consideration, which would apply to all operations that emit odour.
Don Miller, a senior officer in Metro Vancouver’s environmental regulation and enforcement division, said he expects the bylaw will go out for consultation this fall.
He noted Metro Vancouver also amended the plant’s permit late last year. The amendments are aimed at assessing whether the control equipment the plant has in place is working at optimum levels and the overall improvement of housekeeping at the facility.
Miller said complaints have gone up in the last couple of weeks, compared to in June and early July, as the weather improved. The overall complaint number has also gone up compared to the same timeframe last year—it’s climbed from 119 to 156.
“So not an insignificant increase considering that the weather hasn’t been all that great most of the year. That is certainly an increase that can’t be ignored,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a whole lot that the facility is doing. I think there’s much more of an awareness of what goes on there and where the odours are coming from and people, who in the past, may have just shrugged it off are now looking a little closer and finding out that the rendering plant could very well be the source of what they’re smelling and they called it in.”
Miller, who noted many complaints are now coming from a residential building close to the plant, said the consultation schedule for the new bylaw would likely be publicized in September.
“In general, it’s focusing on the risk level of different activities because it’s not just rendering plants—there’s all kinds of different facilities that can generate odours, from anaerobic digestion to composting to rendering to chicken processing facilities. The main thrust is to categorize those kinds of facilities and establish minimum treatment capabilities for each of the categories and also some kind of a fee regimen that will reflect the efforts that go into managing and regulating those kinds of facilities.”
Miller expects consultation will take three or four months. Staff will then write a report outlining concerns and how those concerns have or haven’t been addressed.
That report will go before the environment and energy committee. If the committee is satisfied, the bylaw will be forwarded to the board for its consideration.
“The law can’t be enacted or changed until the elected officials are prepared to support it and they’re are going to be dissenting parties out there that will have to be heard… The elected officials make a decision as to which rights and responsibilities outweigh the others,” he said.
Ken Ingram, West Coast Reduction’s environmental and technical services manager, told the Courier complaint numbers are a fraction of what they were a few years ago.
“The vast majority of complaints now come from one building across the street from us, as opposed to the wider area that was a concern during the time of the appeal,” he stated in an email. “Our goal, of course, is to minimize complaints. We are still working hard to achieve that, with particular focus on the area immediately adjacent to the plant where most of the issue seems to be now.”