A raucous meeting in Fort Langley saw the owners of a planned Glen Valley composting site on the receiving end of a lot of negative comments from neighbours.
Glenval Organics wants to build a composting facility for yard waste - leaves, grass clippings, and wood chips - at 25330 88th Avenue.
The meeting at the Fort Langley Golf Course drew a standing room only audience of more than 80 people, many of them direct neighbours of the property.
After 45 minutes of presentations by GlenVal's owner and business manager, and MetroVancouver officials, a question and answer period began.
The questioning almost immediately turned into a series of accusations, with residents shouting, talking over responses and one another, and flatly telling GlenVal that they aren't wanted.
The residents are worried about the smell from a composting operation, about the possibility of liquid runoff from the compost, environmental damage, reduced property values, noise, and truck traffic.
Albert Anderson, of the nearby Aldor Acres farm, was one of those who has issues with the project.
"The main concern is the location of it," Anderson told the Langley Advance after the meeting. Anderson isn't personally worried much about odours.
Anderson thinks composting like this should be done in an industrial area where any runoff can be taken care of through sewer connections.
He worried about whether the company has a track record with such projects.
At the meeting, many of the questions lobbed at the owners were rhetorical.
"Why do you think you can come into our neighbourhood_ and you expect to come in and devalue our land_ you're not welcome and you're not wanted," said one man.
Several residents said the site is contaminated with old cedar debris, one saying that "phosphorescent ooze" was seen coming out of the site.
Another man told GlenVal owner Gary Nickel that he is allergic to grass clippings and cedar, and "when I go into anaphylactic shock, I'm coming after your ass."
A few other composting operations were brought up by residents repeatedly, either in comments or in home-made flyers circulated at the meeting.
The Nature's Needs composting facility in the Portland, Ore. suburb of North Plains was referenced several times.
That facility has made headlines in Oregon for foul odours wafting over North Plains.
However, that facility does both yard waste and food scrap composting, and it takes in a good portion of the food waste from the city of Portland.
Harvest Power, a company that handles food waste in Richmond, has also come under a lot of fire in the last year after foul smells wafted over Vancouver.
Nickel was at pains to repeat that his facility will be taking only yard waste, not food waste.
If he or any other future operator of the site were to switch to composting table scraps, they would have to re-apply to MetroVancouver for permits.
"We would have to go through this entire process again," said Nickel.
He and his business development manager showed that compost will be piled under roofed structures, with negative air pressure under the piles to keep them aerated. The air will then be sucked through pipes and biofiltered to remove most of the odour, they said.
"I thought it was a good open forum," Nickel said after the meeting.
"The information was there for people who wanted to listen," Nickel said.
Nickel is still waiting to get a permit from MetroVancouver for air quality measures, the provincial Ministry of the Environment will have to check that designs for the biofilter system meet standards, and the Agricultural Land Commission has to approve an exemption for non-farm use of compost.
If all that goes through, it will take about 60 to 90 days to build the structures and asphalt pad on which the facility will rest.
If he can't get the ALC exemption, Nickel said he will still operate the compost facility, but he will have to do it under farm legislation. That will mean keeping 50 per cent of all the compost on the property, rather than selling it. Spreading the compost over the filled-in gravel pit will run for about five years, after which they'll have to shut down. But it will leave a site in better shape than they found it, Nickel said.
Township council has requested information from Nickel, and he is expected to speak at the afternoon council meeting on Monday, Jan. 21.