UPDATED: Town buys 2.24 acre site in south end for biosolids compositing

The Town of Ladysmith has bought a property on Thicke Road in the south end of town where it intends to build a new composting facility.

Mayor Aaron Stone speaks to residents who protested over the smell of the biosolids composting last week at the public works yard.

Mayor Aaron Stone speaks to residents who protested over the smell of the biosolids composting last week at the public works yard.

The Town of Ladysmith has bought a property on Thicke Road in the south end of town where it intends to build a new composting facility.

“We are pleased that our lengthy search for a suitable property to house our biosolids composting facility has finally been successful,” said Mayor Aaron Stone on Friday afternoon.

The 2.24 acre site at 4142 Thicke Road is in an industrial zoned area and was sold to another buyer in October above the previous asking price of $615,000.

It’s unclear how much the town paid for the plot of land, which has a 4,924 sq-ft warehouse on the property.

Despite securing a new site, compost operations will continue at the facility on Sixth Avenue in the immediate future while the town attempts  to strike a deal for its Class B material.

“Our main focus continues to be finding an interim partner to process our biosolids until we can move the entire operation away from our public works yard and neighbouring residential areas,” Stone said.

Tensions boiled over on Wednesday as upwards of 30 residents met face-to-face with town officials, including Mayor Stone, at the front gate of the public works facility on Sixth Avenue.

Resident Amanda Schomer told the Chronicle the smell has made it difficult to enjoy being in her own home.

“Right before supper it gets so bad that the inside of our house smells like an outhouse,” she said.

“Even with the windows closed it still seeps in.”

Each week, two bins ranging in size of 15 to 30 cubic metres, amounting to 2,500 tonnes annually, are dumped in piles outside at the site.

The result is top soil that is used in gardens and other areas around Ladysmith.

Jared Wotherspoon, who’s lived two blocks away from the yard for 14 years was one of the neighbours at last week’s protest.

“It’s gotten to the point where you can’t even send the kids into the backyard to play.”

Island Health told the Chronicle it had received several complaints regarding the smell but had not launched a formal investigation due to the town’s plans to mitigate the odour.

The Town said it will continue to try and mitigate the smell, including doing the majority of the work during the evening.

Officials have been urgently looking for other partners that can take the material in the interim.

Negotiations with three or four are quite close and a deal could be inked as early as next week.

The public works yard has been composting biosolids since the 1990s, but shipments of Class B material from the wastewater plant doubled earlier this year when the town switched to secondary sewage treatment.

Ladysmith has previously received $570,000 through the federal Gas Tax Fund to help with costs of building a new facility.

City council voted last summer to delay construction until the composting operation could be moved to a more suitable location.

The new compost site will have a covered enclosure for the compost piles as well as bio-filters to mitigate odour.

“The smell will be completely controlled and fully minimized,” said city manager Guillermo Ferrero

Ladysmith has also already applied to have the federal grant transferred to the new location.

“We’re going to move as fast as possible,” Ferrero said, noting there are conditions of the sale that are still pending.

“Hopefully we’ll get the possession for the property right away and in the mean time we’re going to get the design and everything moving forward.”

A search for a new site has been ongoing months but led to difficulties due to suitable location and zoning.

“The whole situation has been extremely difficult for our community and for our council,” Stone said.

“As we better understood that the public works yard would no longer be a suitable location for the composting operation, we started looking for a new site or other places to take the Town’s biosolids. Our teams are still urgently focused on efforts to find an interim partner to take our biosolids until our new facility is operational.”

 

Ladysmith Chronicle

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