Compost opponents dominate information meeting
Virtually all of the people who attended a Wednesday night public information meeting about a proposed composting facility at 25330 88 Ave. were against it.
More than 120 people filled a meeting room at the Fort Langley Gold Course, many standing at the back because there weren't enough chairs.
Speaker after speaker told representatives of Glenval Organics and Metro Vancouver that they are against the plant because they are worried about the effect it will have on their neighbourhood and their property values.
"We don't want you here," one shouted.
"Why the hell should you come in here?" another yelled.
"You're not welcome and you're not wanted."
Remarks by others were less heated, but no less opposed.
"This is really a bad spot for us," one said.
Another was applauded when they suggested the plant should be built in a commercial area, saying "that sounds industrial to me."
Glenval Organics CEO Gary Nickel said the design of the facility and the type of composting will limit the impact.
Nickel said the plant will only accept yard waste from commercial sources like landscaping companies, not the type of mixed-together compost allowed for in residential waste collection, that adds often-smelly kitchen garbage to the mix.
"We are not accepting food waste," Nickel said.
There will be filters and fans to limit odour emissions, he added.
Nickel was shouted down more than once.
"You have to give us a chance to answer," he protested.
"You can't ask a question and not accept the answer."
In response to one questioner who wanted to know if the plant would use sludge from sewage treatment plants, Nickel said no.
"It's not coming to Fort Langley."
The plant will be well above the flood plain, Nickel told another questioner who was concerned about the impact of a washout.
"It's not even close to it." Nickel said.
The Glenval CEO told another questioner that his firm would be willing to conduct tests of wells in the immediate area to make sure there is no contamination from the plant, something he said is unlikely because the compost will be processed inside a covered building.
Nickel said his company could go ahead and build the facility without Metro air quality approval because the site has been zoned for composting for 20 years, but has opted to taken the "high road" and seek a permit.
Ray Robb, the Metro air quality district director, said the compost facility fits with Metro Vancouver's plans to reduce the amount of waste trucked to landfills by substantially increasing the amount that is recycled.
Metro has gone to court to gain some authority over agricultural land in the Lower Mainland, Robb told the crowd, and while it has succeeded to some extent, that authority is still limited.
"We are focused on the law," Robb said.
"We look to the legislation as our guidance."
Robb said the provincial government has made it clear that it, not Metro, has the final say over farmland.
Robb ordered the meeting after controversy erupted late last year over the proposed project.
Another meeting is being sought by Langley Township council, which is demanding a one-on-one session with representatives of Glenval and Metro officials to discuss the project.
Some members of council attended the Wednesday meeting.
Councillors Kim Richter and David Davis were there from the beginning, while Mayor Jack Froese and Councillors Michelle Sparrow and Bev Dornan arrived later.
Glenval CEO Gary Nickel weathered a storm of angry comments.