A local resident is speaking out against a proposed composting facility adjacent to her family property outside of Cranbrook.
Rhonda Elzinga is concerned about the impacts of a composting facility being proposed by Earthrite Industries, specifically to the groundwater issues, wildlife access and compost odour.
The facility, which is going to a pubic hearing, currently requires a rezoning for the land use to allow for composting. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 22, starting at 7 p.m. in the RDEK boardroom.
The issue had previously gone through a public hearing, however, the RDEK decided to rescind the third reading of the proposed rezoning bylaw in order to gather further information and bring it back to another public hearing.
That information was obtained through a report by VAST Resource Solutions, which concluded there is no surface connectivity between the proposed area and any wetlands or surface water bodies.
The report also says that groundwater is located well below the property and isn’t likely to reach the water table, however, it also noted that on-site wells could provide a potential pathway between contact water and groundwater.
The report recommends that the facility should be constructed on an impervious pad graded away from the well towards a catchment basin.
“The results of the impact assessment reiterate our knowledge that our facility will operate in an environmentally sound manner,” stated Kris Pickering, the owner of Earthrite Industries. “It will not have the negative impact to the area that residents expressed in the last public hearing. We are hopeful that the board of directors will have the assurance they are looking for and will continue to see the value in the project, as they did upon presentation of the project.”
Elzinga, who lives on 57 acres of land just north of the proposed composting facility, says neighbours are against the proposal and that it was unanimously opposed at a Area Planning Committee (APC) meeting.
While the report says that steps can be taken to eliminate the smell that comes from composting, Elzinga doesn’t buy it.
She points to other composting facilities designed by Earthrite Industries’ consultant on Vancouver — Saanich and Ladysmith — and the Lower Mainland that received complaints from neighbouring residents after they were built.
“Once we’re stuck there by that stinking cesspool we can’t sell because who is going to buy?” Elzinga said. “Quality of life, [we have] stunning views of the Steeples, we sit on our decks and have our coffee, I train horses outside; I’m outside all day long everyday, so I can’t run in the house and hide from the stench.”
Elzinga is concerned that the composting material could get into the groundwater and even though the facility will be build on impervious concrete, she points to Cranbrook streets and says winter frost heave could damage the concrete surfaces.
She is also concerned about the impact to local wildlife; she says the area is habitat for badgers, which are considered endangered by the B.C. government, and that there are dens on her property.
Following the public hearing on Wednesday evening, the issue will go back to the RDEK board in March.