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Compost controversy: neighbours ‘outraged’

A proposal to build a composting facility on this 12.32 hectare property at 25330 88 Ave. is generating controversy. - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
A proposal to build a composting facility on this 12.32 hectare property at 25330 88 Ave. is generating controversy.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

A proposal to build a composting facility east of Fort Langley is drawing fire from residents and at least one member of Langley Township council, who complain there hasn’t been enough public consultation about the Glenval Organics Ltd. application to locate the plant at 25330 88 Ave.

In response, the Metro Vancouver official who will decide whether the plant gets an air quality permit has announced tentative plans for a public information meeting early in the new year.

Ray Robb, the Metro air quality district director, said a definite date for the meeting has yet to be selected, but it will be towards the end of January.

“Some time after the 15th,” Robb told The Times on Thursday.

Robb, who has the authority to issue an air quality permit, said Metro Vancouver staff would be attending the meeting.

He stressed that the meeting was not a formal public hearing, only an information session.

A written statement issued Dec. 24 by Glenval Organics promised the facility will not smell bad because it will only use yard waste.

“The company does not intend to compost food waste which is the typical culprit in unpleasant odours,” the statement said.

That doesn’t reassure resident Katherine Kinman, who is renovating a nearby farm house.

She said she and her neighbours are “outraged” and intend to fight the planned development.

“My property value will go down to the bottom,” Kinman said in a email to The Times.

“Who would want to live here?”

She fears the compost facility will scare tourists away.

“You could severely hammer the Fort Langley economy if you issue a license for the compost dump,” Kinman said.

John Crocock, who is renovating the farmhouse with Kinman, said the plant will be too close for comfort.

“It’s just across the trees,” Crocock told The Times Thursday.

“They’re putting it beside a bunch of five-acre lots where people are making their dream homes.”

Langley Township Councillor Charlie Fox said neither Metro nor the company have made more than a token phone call to inform local government.

“There has been no [proper] notification of any of these details of this proposal and operation given to the Township staff or council,” Fox said.

“A telephone call and a written document are two different things.”

Fox said the proposal will make Langley the “dumping site” for all the green waste from all the other municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

“This is a fine example of Metro Vancouver taking advantage of one of their member municipalities and their residents,” Fox fumed.

Fox said the site is close to Gray Pit, which is supposedly the home of several endangered species.

“[And it] is exactly adjacent to the property the Township took off the market in Glen Valley — the real McLellan Forest,” Fox added.

“This whole area is a flood plain and sensitive peat bog.”

Fox was not satisfied with the operator’s promise to restrict the type of waste to limit odours, saying that could change down the road.

“It’s a slippery slope.”

Fox said he will be asking council at its next meeting to send a letter to Metro calling for a delay on the decision to allow more consultation.

“A lot of discussion has to take place at the local level,” Fox said.

Glenval Organics spokesperson Scott Temreck described the site as a “former fill and gravel pit” that is properly zoned for composting.

Temreck said the proposed compost operation will be a clean, odour-free “small-scale” facility that will only process residential yard waste.

“We want to compost green waste using the latest proven methods that eliminate odours and produce high-quality organic soil,” Temreck said in a written statement.

The yard waste will be used to create “high-quality organic soil to be used by landscapers, gardeners, residents and the Township of Langley,” he said.

Temreck said the company intends to become the first yard waste compost facility in the Metro Vancouver region to receive an air quality permit and promised the plant will “meet or exceed all environmental regulations that apply to the composting industry.”

All odours generated through the natural composting process will be collected and diverted through an industrial bio-filter, he said.

The composting system will be enclosed and is designed to collect any leachate into tanks and recycle it back into the composting process, Temreck added.

Traffic will be “minimally increased” along 88 Avenue, adding a maximum of 16 trucks a day to the 2,500 to 5,000 vehicles that travel the route every day, Temreck said.

The statement said Glenval has created a comprehensive environmental plan to prevent and minimize odours and pollution, to prevent all leachate from going into groundwater, and to improve the quality of storm runoff water through a series of settling ponds.

The company also said it would like to have an area where local residents can drop off green yard waste and has plans for community gardens and an education centre.

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