Metro Vancouver preparing to issue air quality permit to composting facility

Enviro-Smart's previous proposal "would result in unacceptable impacts in terms of odour"

Metro Vancouver is in the final stages of review in order to issue an air quality permit for the Enviro-Smart composting facility in East Ladner.

Ray Robb, manager of Metro Vancouver’s Environmental Regulation and Enforcement Division, told the Delta Optimist that Metro is working to put all its recommended requirements into a draft permit for the company’s review.

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“I would imagine we are looking at hopefully less than two months to get this permit out, but that depends upon a timely back-and-forth between us,” said Robb.

Robb confirmed that in the past month Metro met with company officials to advise them their application did not meet Metro’s standards.

“Basically the technology could be better and what was proposed would result in unacceptable impacts in the community in terms of odour,” Robb said. “They went away and looked at their business model to see if they could improve their proposal. They came back with a much-improved proposal. There are areas where we think they have done their best, but there are areas where we think there is need for further discussion.”

Robb said once the permit is issued, he cautioned that change would not happen overnight.

“We won’t be able to snap our fingers when the permit is issued to have all these new requirements come into effect immediately, so they will have to be phased in over a period of time,” he said. “We have options if it gets really bad. We appreciate them [residents] letting us know because, quite frankly, the only way we can tell there are unpleasant odours is if people tell us. It helps tell us how hard we need to push, so it is useful to their cause to let us know that it is unacceptable, however, this operation has been there for quite a while and it’s going to take a while to turn it around.”

Once the permit is issued Robb said it would be up to Enviro-Smart to decide if it wants to explain what it is going to be doing under the permit.

“So I would not discourage them to do that,” he added. “From our perspective, we post the permit on site. People who have questions can contact us and we’ll do our best to explain it. People have the right to appeal the permit, just like the Harvest Power situation in Richmond. If people are asking for a public meeting to explain the permit, we are happy to consider that, but we have no plans to do so.”

The Optimist reached out to Enviro-Smart for comment, but company director Brian King said, “At this time we have no comment on the matter.”

Meanwhile, the City of Delta has posted an update on its website.

Delta said their staff is working with both Metro and Enviro-Smart to ensure additional measures are implemented to mitigate odour impacts this spring and summer.

“Additionally, options are being reviewed that are aimed at achieving a fully enclosed facility where all composting processes are contained within a controlled environment with odour filtration,” wrote Mayor Lois Jackson. “Unfortunately, Delta has very little direct control over regulating this business and the odours that are generated. Delta will continue to lobby the appropriate authorities to take whatever actions they can to improve the situation for local residents.”

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