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Clock ticking on compost decision

A decision on the proposed Glenval Organics composting facility at 25330 88 Ave. will be made by the middle of this month, likely around Feb. 15, said Ray Robb, the Metro air quality district director.

Robb said anyone who wants to make a submission about the project should email his department at regulationenforcement@metrovancouver.org before that date.

Robb said anything after that date may be too late to be considered.

No further public meetings are planned following an often-heated public information meeting in Fort Langley on Jan. 16 and a lower-key discussion of the matter at a Jan. 21 afternoon session of Langley Township council.

An overflow crowd of more than 120 people turned out for the first meeting to hear and occasionally shout down representatives of Glenval and Metro Vancouver, including Robb.

The second public session was considerably quieter.

At the Township council meeting, Glenval Organics CEO Gary Nickel opened his presentation by saying his time on the hot seat at the previous public information meeting has cured him of any inclinations toward a political career.

Speaking to a full session of council in a nearly-empty council meeting chamber, Nickel attempted to make the same case he presented at the first meeting.

He said the property is on an old gravel pit and “has no redeeming values.”

It will not be using municipal compost which mixes smelly kitchen waste with plants, lawn clippings and other yard waste.

“There are huge streams of green waste throughout the Lower Mainland that have no food component,” Nickel told council.

As planned, he said the facility would not emit an unpleasant odour.

“You’ll smell more of an earthy smell before you get anything nauseating.”

He expects to benefit from the impending ban in 2015 of green waste from landfills, something that is expected to require composting of hundreds of tons of material.

Nickel said his company could run a compost plant on the property under the agricultural act without getting permission from Metro Vancouver, but that would limit it to selling just half of the compost it makes while keeping the rest on the site.

Under those rules, the plant would run out of room to store the compost in about five years and would have to close.

“We’ve gone above what is required” by seeking approval from Metro and the municipality, Nickel said.

Councillor Kim Richter, who attended the earlier public meeting, complimented Nickel for enduring a “trial by fire” that he handled “graciously.”

Then she asked him if he could say he will never take food waste.

No, Nickel said.

“If the technology is there and it’s proven, we would consider it.”

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