Township of Langley receives report on proposed composting facility, asks questions about Metro’s “zero waste” plans

MetroVanWatch has reported previously about a proposal to build a composting facility in the Township of Langley. As this proposal relates to the entire Metro Vancouver “zero waste” objectives, it is of interest to the entire region and makes us think about the inter-connectedness of policies and challenges facing our region. Below is report of the TOL council meeting on the evening of Monday, February 4, 2013. It was provided by a local citizen.

Re; Provincial Agricultural Land Commission Application No. 100239 (Nickel/25330 88th Avenue:

The staff recommendation to Township of Langley council was this: “Recommendation that Council receive the non-farm use application submitted by Cynthia and Gary Nickel for consideration of referral to the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission for review based upon agricultural consideration; that should Council decide to refer the application, the AlC be requested to consider including conditions as part of any future approval to address the servicing, community, environmental and operational concerns outlined in this report; and further; that a copy of this report be forwarded to Metro Vancouver, constituting Township of Langley’s submission made in response to their referral comment request”.

Report by a citizen:

  • The TOL staff report contained a large volume of information generated with respect to a variety of concerns identified with the operation and conditions if Council were to endorse the application before forwarding it to the ALC.
  • Six members of the public spoke against the proposal on issues ranging from property depreciation, zoning, trucks, road maintenance, OMRR guidelines, potential leachate contamination, quality of life, wells, and the use of old technology (composting) as opposed to burning the waste to generate power.
  • Ultimately, Council unanimously voted to receive the report but decided not to endorse the proposal nor to refer it to the ALC.
  • The discussion around their decision raised some very interesting points; the most germane to Metro’s role were those of Councillor Charlie Fox who advised that Metro’s “zero waste” policy had been set as a very high goal but that without further direction or effort by Metro that he feared a “free for all” in the other 23 communities across Metro Vancouver attempting to implement the policy by 2015. In this instance, he suggested that the proposal fell short of what is needed in terms of a “functionally situated” site based on a mulit-faceted approach to planning for waste disposal.
  • Councillor Kim Richter was primarily concerned about the potential for contamination from leachate from the site that was identified by a neighbour as being unremediated from previous landfill and therefore posing an additional threat to neighbouring wells from the additional weight of the composting materials.
  • Councillor Bev Dornan advised that she believed that it was not “in the right spot”.
  • Councillor Steve Ferguson argued that there were “too many unanswered questions,” and that potential harm to the environment was an overriding concern.
  • Councillor Michelle Sparrow echoed Councillor Fox’s concern regarding the lack of planning in the application.
  • Councillor Grant Ward was concerned that the property was on the floodplain and feared that contamination could take place in a flooding situation. He also suggested that it was up to the wisdom of Council to decide such things and that “citizens have to be happy.”
  • Councillor David Davis advised that while he likes compost, he too felt that the facility was “not in the right place.”
  • And finally, Councillor Bob Long also said “no” to this non-farm use and reiterated that it was not in a suitable location.
  • The end result was a unanimous vote with a copy of the report along with Council’s thoughts on the process going to Metro through their representative Councillor Bob Long.
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