Tonight at the Electoral Area Services committee meeting, we approved the permit for a second building at the Fisher Road Composting facility. This decision will undoubtably have mixed feelings from the community. This is why I would like to write out what my thinking was to be in favor of this building permit.
I knocked on about 500 doors in Cobble Hill when I ran for office 8 months ago. I definitely remember the village core neighborhoods of Twin Cedars, Galliers, Hollan, Garland, and Watson. Every other doorstep was a request to “deal with that damn smell”. It was evident at that time that the quality of life for the residents in the village was being impacted negatively.
Then there were those with stronger opinions about Fisher Road Recycling that simply wanted me to shut down the place. Fortunately, I don’t have those powers. I don’t think it would be healthy for any community to have a board with powers to shut down a business with out the proper bylaws in place. (At this point in time, there are no bylaws being broken)
Two camps: Deal with the smell OR shut it down.
the concerns aren’t just about the air quality either. The test wells in that area show high levels of nitrates in the water. This can come from organic (compost) or inorganic (chemical fertilizers) sources. With an industrial park, you’re going to have these kinds of issues especially with two composting facilities and a green house operating in close proximity to each other.
So it’s with that concern that the more aggressive camp would like a shut down but the reality is that sourcing the culprit is impossible with three operators in close proximity to each other. As I said during the debates and my campaign, this solution was going to have to involve some compromises.
This brings me back full circle to my decision. I have done a tour of the Fisher Road Facility with CVRD staff. The last open air part of the composting facility is the secondary curing stage, everything else is on concrete and in a building. But the curing stage is currently open to the rain and wind. It sits on concrete pads with water catchment draining. The building would enclose all of this curing and put the air through biofilters to remove the odour. This means that no more odours can occur from this site and managing water run off will be controlled much better.
I will continue to find ways to secure the safety of our water and ensure a high quality of life that most people strive for in the Village.