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Central Saanich composting company charged, sued

A Central Saanich composting facility, accused of being stinky, has been charged by the Capital Regional District under a public nuisance bylaw and sued by a group of nearby residents.
xxxFoundation Organics
Foundation Organics in Central Saanich has been charged under nuisance bylaws.

A Central Saanich composting facility, accused of being stinky, has been charged by the Capital Regional District under a public nuisance bylaw and sued by a group of nearby residents.

“We’re happy to hear the CRD has taken action,” said Anna Clemente, from the citizen group Stop the Stink. “I couldn’t smell anything on my walk this morning, so maybe that’s a good sign.”

As a result of increased odour complaints in early December, the CRD charged Foundation Organics composting facility at 6341 Old East Rd. with a bylaw offence that can come with a fine of up to $200,000.

The CRD conditionally suspended the facility’s licence in August, after several odour warnings. That suspension was appealed and will be the subject of a B.C. Supreme Court hearing in January. Meantime, the facility continues to operate.

Foundation Organics is the only licensed kitchen scrap composting facility in the capital region.

They had a contract with the CRD to process scraps from Oak Bay, Victoria and View Royal until the hundreds of complaints about odour and litter came in.

The company’s lawyer, John Alexander, said he can’t see why the CRD would add more charges to an issue that is before the courts. “They haven’t even responded to the revised plans we sent them,” he said, adding Foundation Organics has made substantial changes to operations after the complaints. “Rather than resolve the issues, they’ll spend more money to add more proceedings.”

Andy Orr, senior manager of corporate communications for the CRD, said he couldn’t comment on the bylaw charges because the issue is before the courts.

Clemente said at least 100 people are supporting Stop the Stink’s civil lawsuit against Foundation Organics.

The group filed for damages in September, but Clemente said it’s not about the money.

“We just want it to stop,” she said. On a bad day, the smell coming from the facility reeks like rotting garbage and is noticeable up to a kilometre away, Clemente said.

Neighbours have complained of headaches, respiratory problems and sleeping issues, and raised concerns about property values.

“None of us can imagine another summer of this. It’s destroyed our lives,” Clemente said.

spetrescu@timescolonist.com