Some­thing’s rot­ten in Crown Point com­mu­nity

RE­CY­CLING City com­post plant smells bad at times

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DON­GEN

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.

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