East Ladner residents seeking relief from odours emanating from a 72nd Street composting facility are going to have to wait at least a couple of months longer.
GFL Environmental Inc. was granted an interim relief application by the Environmental Appeal Board last week to extend the construction deadline of an enclosed facility designed to reduce odours that have been a point of contention with the community since 2004.
The original deadline, as stipulated in an air quality permit issued by Metro Vancouver, was for the enclosed facility to be in place by March 1, 2020, but with the granting of the interim relief application, GFL has an additional two months to complete construction and transition the current operation to the new facility.
The new facility must now be enclosed by May 1, 2020.
Residents have been fighting the permit since June when Environmental Appeal Board hearings began in Tsawwassen. The hearings then moved to Richmond in November. In all, there has been 30 days of testimony thus far with 10 more days of testimony scheduled to start on March 9 in Richmond.
While GFL was submitting its interim relief application, the resident appellants countered with their own application, asking the board to amend the permit to stop GFL from receiving food waste until the building was enclosed and to cover the existing exposed compost piles from rain, which residents say causes the compost to go anaerobic and produce even more odours.
Resident appellants’ spokesperson Peggy Richardson said their application was denied as the board said it did not meet the threshold for a temporary relief application.
“Essentially we are once again being asked to endure the ‘signature’ smell as it has been decided by Metro Vancouver to exclude food waste from the landfill, yet ignores the quality of life and health concerns of the residents,” said Richardson.
She said when the hearing reconvenes, residents will show the board that Metro Vancouver processes, decisions and the air quality permit have failed to protect the residents of East Ladner.
“We contend GFL is not in compliance,” she said. “Composting is a good thing when done properly. Europe has been composting food waste for 40 years, but this is a relatively new industry in North America obviously without proper standards and oversight. All levels of government need good policies and testing to get this right.”
The Optimist sent several requests for interviews and comments to GFL this week, but those requests went unanswered.
Metro Vancouver district director Ray Robb said although it did argue many of the points as well, this is really between GFL and the residents.
“We really don’t have a position. If we made arguments it was kind of on behalf of the residents, but generally, the law is the law and we will enforce the law as it stands,” said Robb. “The EAB has made their determination based on arguments put forward so that’s what it is.”