Odour survey to help deal with Chemainus stink: council

Chemainus businesses, waiting for some solution to their complaints about the stink they say is emanating from a composting plant on the Trans Canada Highway, saw a light at the end of the tunnel last week.

They heard from North Cowichan CAO Dave Devana at the July 9 North Cowichan council meeting that the Cowichan Valley Regional District has done a composting and odour survey as a response to complaints from the Chemainus Industrial Park about the smell.

"The CVRD did a two-month survey where they posted students around the area to determine what the odours were, the intensity of the odours and where the odours were coming from, whether it was from farms, from other facilities in the area or from the composting facility. The CVRD is expecting a report and it’s my understanding it will come forward in the next week or two," he explained to an audience that included some industrial park business representatives.

"We have been told by property owners in that area that we need to accelerate some kind of action and we have told them, ‘no, we need to get the report first.’ When we get the report, we’ll find out the sources of the odour, the intensity of the odour, and then we can decide if we can take steps," Devana said.

Coun. Jennifer Woike asked that North Cowichan council get a speedy, full report as soon as it comes to the regional district table.

Coun. Barb Lines thanked the people "who’ve taken the time to keep us informed about the situation. I gather this information will help us narrow down exactly what is causing the problem. I’m glad it’s taking place and that we’ll have a report saying if it’s the wind, if it’s the process, what it is caused by."

"I actually phoned [CVRD chair and Ladysmith Mayor Rob] Hutchins this morning because I’d had an email asking, ‘does anybody care?’" Coun. Ruth Hartmann added. "We all really care but there is a process whether they believe it’s slow or not. There are other jurisdictions, too. But, the CVRD and our own staff have really put in a lot of hours on this. Whenever we get a phone call, Mr. Devana has driven up there, I’ve driven up there, Mayor Hutchins drives down from Ladysmith. It’s been really well looked at and I think it’s in all our best interests to wait for the report."

Coun. John Koury, however, went for another angle, suggesting that dealing with the odour complaints should be handled by someone else.

"I don’t think [dealing with the stink issue] is the role of council at present. What concerns me right now is, what vision do we have for that highway corridor running through Chemainus? We have spent a lot of time and local resources on a number of local area plans. But the stink issue is not the big picture for that area. I’d like the bureaucrats to continue to do their work, to help us understand their problem better while council is creating a vision for that corridor."