Cobble Hill foes dump on compost expansion plans

Residents concerned about Fisher Road Recycling’s bid to increase the amount of organic material it accepts for composting are raising a stink.

Many of the 80 people who turned out for a public information meeting hosted by the Cowichan Valley Regional District on Monday, March 31 brought up issues with smell and the threat to well water.

The business, owned by Dave Laing, is located on Fisher Road near housing and a small commercial core that make up the centre of the rural community. Fisher Road Recycling has a contract to process kitchen scraps collected through Saanich’s green-bin program. It has also been processing material from Victoria, View Royal, Esquimalt, Sidney and Oak Bay, but doesn’t have the capacity for their scraps now that Saanich’s program has started.

The CVRD received an application from the recycling firm to increase its licensed capacity of 10,980 tonnes to the facility’s design capacity of 18,000 tonnes annually. CVRD has allowed the facility to operate at the higher capacity on a temporary basis for the past six months.

A 45-day public consultation process ended April 18 and will be followed by a technical review. If the application is declined, Fisher Road Recycling will be able to appeal to the CVRD board.

Hubert Timmenga, who works for the Capital Regional District, Central Saanich and the Agricultural Land Commission, told the audience that recycling operations can cause odours when they’re improperly managed.

“In composting, it’s the facility and the process — they both have to be in tune,” said Timmenga.

Some neighbours voiced concerns about high nitrate levels in the groundwater, but Fisher Road Recycling maintains those high levels had been in the area long before the company took over the site in 2006.

While Laing told the community earlier he would not accept biosolids (sewage sludge), he went back on his word in May 2013 “when he did a favour for a friend,” said Timmenga.

In future, he said, no biosolids will be accepted.

Henry Vandermeulen of Verner Road is opposed to the trucking of recycling material from Foundation Organics to Fisher Road Recycling.

“It’s more logical for Saanich and the CRD to build their own facility at the Hartland Road landfill,” said Vandermeulen.

Michelle Redfern lives a kilometre away from the recycling facility but has traced the smell from her home to the plant. “It’s awful, just awful,” she said.

Doug Lockhart of Gallier Road said Fisher Road Recycling has successfully reduced the odours but the problem is far from solved. He expressed concern about biosolids being trucked over the Malahat to Cobble Hill.

“We really don’t want to be turned into an outhouse for Victoria,” Lockhart said.

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