Something’s rotten in Crown Point community
RECYCLING City compost plant smells bad at times
Hamilton’s compost facility is stinking up the neighbourhood again — but this time, the city is pointing the finger at new provincial rules.
Crown Point neighbourhood residents complained for months last summer about a rotting odour so bad, some said they felt a stinging sensation in their throats. The neighbourhood is in the Ottawa and Barton street area.
City and provincial investigators eventually tracked the sporadic stink to the nearby municipal composting plant on Burlington Street East at Hobson Road — despite initial assurances given to residents the facility was not to blame.
The odour returned with a vengeance this month, prompting complaints to the city, ward councillor Sam Merulla and the provincial Ministry of the Environment.
The city is studying a recently completed report from a special “odour consultant” on possible fixes, said public works head Dan McKinnon.
But the city believes the stench is partly due to new changes to the compost curing process imposed by the province — essentially, a requirement to keep the material wetter.
Merulla said he is lobbying for the city to stop adhering to the new rules until a solution can be found at the facility, which turns close to 70,000 tonnes of tossed food waste into compost each year.
“We can’t just let neighbourhood residents be guinea pigs while we experiment with a trial-and-error process,” said Merulla, who experienced the stench first-hand late last week when responding to a complaint. “It’s unbearable.”
McKinnon said city officials hope to talk with the ministry this week or next about possible “relief ” from the new rules while the facility’s contracted operators explore new odour-battling techniques. (Some of those may include a larger biofilter and changes in timing for removal of material.)
Via email, ministry spokesperson Jennifer Hall said officials will meet with the city to talk about its “odour abatement strategy.” But the email added if the city stops meeting the new compost regulations, it will have to treat the end product as waste — and send it to landfill.
McAnulty Boulevard resident Debbie Lapointe has recorded six odoriferous days since late April in a log she keeps for that specific purpose. Sometimes the smell is noticeable only in her neighbourhood, but she said other times it is recognizable all the way to the Centre on Barton.
While she reports her findings to the ministry, it’s hard to prove “sporadic whiffs” she said.