How did this happen in our backyard?

by Ken Mariette, Citizen Journalist

You’ve seen it on TV, read it in the papers and heard about it on the radio.  Another environmental disaster!   “Smog kills hundreds in China”, “a fuel truck crashes and spills its load into Goldstream Park”, “Japan’s nuclear plant leaks into the Pacific Ocean” and “an Ontario town experiences serious health issues from an abandoned nickel mine”.

Well, as harsh as these realities are, we in Central Saanich are experiencing our own environmental disaster; albeit on a much smaller, but equally serious, scale.  Ours originates from a well-intended, but poorly thought out, policy.

In the interest of extending the useful life of the Hartland landfill facility, the CRD Waste Management Committee proposed that, as of 2015, no organic food waste would be allowed at the site.  Plans were developed in advance of this self-imposed deadline, and embraced by several CRD communities, with enthusiasm and optimism.  Investments were made in ‘green’ collection bins for organic kitchen scraps (including meat, fish and poultry), new collection trucks ordered and public education informing that, as of 2015, Hartland would no longer accept organic food waste.

Yes, once again the Greater Victoria communities were ahead of the curve, a la the “blue box program”…….  or so they thought!!  Hold on…. how and where is the CRD going to dispose or process potentially tens of thousands of tons of annual organic food waste?  Why not compost it on local farms?

Thus begins the tragic saga of our own environmental disaster.


4 Responses to “How did this happen in our backyard?”

  • KM Frye:

    It’s another case of “ready, FIRE, aim!” in the name of political correctness. The CRD, dysfunctional, reverse pyramid that it is, saw a chance to get on the “green teem” and leapt. They apparently did not bother to check the references supplied by the self-styled “expert” with his PhD. Instead, they accepted at face value his statements, then failed utterly to perform any due dilligence on the operation during the construction phase. Instead, they and the provicincial mandarins over at the Rockpile relied for months on the plans, not the reality of what was taking place- a reality that overlooked such minor items as prevailing winds, failure to build structures specified, failure to properly complete even those structures that were built, and in the end, failure to abide by the limits of their licence. During this phase, and for well over a year after the operation commenced, the CRD, ALC and the Ministries of Environment all claimed (based solely on the plans) that the operation was indeed compliant with the sacred OMRR guidelines, and that there was nothing could be done.

    It all stems from a lack of oversight. No one was watching. Instead, they chose to believe the operator was following the plans set in place and signed off by someone who has done similar projects in 20 other jurisdictions, and has been the subject of serious scrutiny in all 20 of those places for very similar problems. Lack of oversight led Keating Valley and Tanner Ridge residents to their current situation. It should not have taken over 2,000 complaints and nearly four years before someone finally took action. This should simply never have started. Period.

  • Cindy Webster:

    It was irresponsible for the CRD to ram through such legislation without looking into the potential negative ramifications. How anyone could think that composting meat scraps is acceptable is beyond me. Have they never put chicken bones in the garbage? Have they zero imagination?
    It beggars belief that this foul garbage dump has been allowed to operate in the Agricultural Land Reserve, dumping garbage of unknown origin from cruise ships directly onto the land while an individual who MIGHT step on Agricultural land in the next ten days cannot bring an apple from Washington across the border.
    This scofflaw operation has been operating in defiance of the orders that it was to cease composting. There is no regard for the people forced to endure the stench.
    This lawbreaker should be fined heavily every single day until it is forced to close it’s doors. Money is the only thing that will talk in this case.

  • Thomas Loo:

    Having worked at a local government for 10.5 years with the Environmental / Engineering department, I think the concept of diverting the food waste from the landfill makes sense. The material is a valuable resource and as an trained Environmental Protection Technician is should be “recycled”. Globally, the issue of soil loss as a resource is astounding.

    When I worked with the ALC as one of their C&E Officers, I felt that the policy makers considering their waste management policies, just didn’t have all the information and potentially made some quick decisions with some unintended consequences.

    The simple answer is to have the composting take place on the landfill. Consider that the footprint of the landfill is pretty much considered a site of potential contamination, it makes sense to co-locate a commercial composting facility there. I also believe that if the Regional District is operating the facility, then at least there is better oversight. Also, since the food waste pick up is also usually run by the Regional Districts, it makes also makes sense that they just contract someone to do the waste hauling.

    The final finished compost can then either be sold as a commercial product, or even some of it can be “given” to the local farms as the RD’s way of supporting local agriculture. Composting food waste is what I consider to be a “necessary evil” in the sense, that we just have to do it – but it should be done right and in the right location, because it is a very industrial operation, not an operation that is located on a farm.

  • I just wanted to tell anyone interested to come see our facebook page ‘Foundation Organics Deserves Kitchen Scraps’ to see factual information about the facility and the farm it served. Foundation Organics accepted organic waste and turned it into beautiful compost which it spread exclusively on the land it farms. Stanhope farm was able to reduce its petroleum based fertilizer needs and saved over 4 million gallons of water in its first year of using compost as fertilizer. It is not a garbage dump it is a world class facility with amazing potential!

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