After taking a 21st century digital approach to social activism, Richmond residents, upset at the constant odours being produced by the Harvest Power compost facility in east Richmond, dialed it back to the 20th century with a good old-fashioned protest at Richmond City Hall Saturday afternoon.
Braving cold weather and icy roads, members of the Facebook activist group Stop the Stink in Richmond brought signs to the corner of No. 3 Road and Granville Avenue to muster up support to shut down the beleaguered compost facility.
Trust in Harvest Power and elected officials to solve the problem appeared low amongst the crowd of two dozen or so protesters.
“We’re grossed out about it. It doesn’t seem like the mayor is doing much and Harvest Power has been lying,” said James Jesney, who moved to Richmond in December, only to discover that the outside of his home constantly stinks.
“I feel sorry for people who have lived here the past six years,” he said.
Jesney said he would have reconsidered moving to Richmond, had he known the odours would be this bad.
As such, there is a growing concern amongst some that property values may begin to be adversely affected by the stink; Realtor Arnold Shuchat said he’s considering a class-action lawsuit, if the odours persist.
For most, the issue has become that of quality of life.
Alisa Streat, a 17-year resident near No. 4 and Francis roads, said family life has been affected.
“I had my three grandkids over and sent them outside one day. Within three minutes, they were back in saying, ‘Grandma, it stinks.’ If I can’t put my grandkids out, then what?” stated Streat.
Lily Lam, an 18-year resident on Moffatt Road, also said the odours have, at times, prevented her from playing outdoors with her grandchildren.
“The government should be able to shut them down. The fact that they can’t divulge certain things is incredible,” said Lam.
Lam’s Moffatt Road neighbour, John Campbell, was of the opinion that no politicians seem accountable for the problem.
Protesters raised signs asking for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Christy Clark and Mayor Malcolm Brodie to “stop the stink” and shut down Harvest Power.
The federal and provincial governments have stated the issue lies with regional government Metro Vancouver to enforce air quality regulations.
The News asked Metro Vancouver on Monday for clarification on why Harvest Power has not been or cannot be shut down, but did not receive a response by Tuesday’s deadline.
Presently, Metro officials have stated they are increasing odour monitoring via a new air quality permit, issued Jan. 1.
Harvest Power maintains it is improving its facility. The company is, however, also appealing the new permit, asking it to be nullified on jurisdictional grounds (it leases federal land from Port of Vancouver).
MP Joe Peschisolido has stated the federal government has no official role to play in the matter. He did, however, recently hold a town hall meeting to facilitate dialogue.