“Putrid, acidic, sour, nostril burning, noxious, rancid, flatulence.”
Just some of the words Richmond residents are using to describe the cloud hanging over their neighbourhoods, produced by a composting facility in the city.
Now they’ve had enough, and are demanding to have their voices heard.
LISTEN: Richmond residents say they’ve had enough of the stink
“We are feeling desperate. Richmond residents are fed up with feeling ill and housebound for four years because of the smell being emitted from Harvest Power Composting facility,” says Nancy Smith, one of several hundred people who have joined a Facebook group called Stop the Stink in Richmond.
A petition to stop the stink has also been launched, earning about 600 signatures so far.
Smith says people might think they’re exagerating about the problem, but that the odour can get so bad it’s made healthy people physically sick.
“One was a young guy who was playing soccer in Hugh Boyd Park, and it just wafted through and he said he had to throw up in a garbage can,” she said.
Smith says they’re angry that Harvest Power, which runs the recycling operation, is allowed to leave piles of rotting compost outdoors with no filtering system.
What’s more, she says Harvest has just been granted a four-year extension on their permit to operate, along with an increased emission allowance.
Fellow group member Rob Leslie says it’s a matter of Harvest not being a good neighbour.
He says he supports composting, but only so long as the infrastructure is there to do it properly. In this case, he says they need to enclose the property as is done in Surrey and most other cities.
“I think it’s more a matter of human decency. We can smell this, we know what’s going in. It’s just a matter of the regulations and the scientific studies, how do you prove it? We’re trying to figure out who’s really in charge because you have all of these politicians playing hot potato with each other.”
One stinky hot potato
Smith and Leslie say as angry they are at the company for stinking up their neighbourhoods, they’re even more upset civic leaders are ignoring the issue.
Smith says she can’t believe Richmond mayor Malcom Brodie won’t take a stand on it.
“We’re upset about the fact that he’s pushing this, which is all fine and dandy. But we’re suffering. And we voted him in. And he’s also a citizen of Richmond, we cannot for the life of us understand why he is not upset about it.”
Air quality is an issue regulated by Metro Vancouver, but Smith – and other callers to the show, say they’ve gotten nowhere with the body.
That might be because it considers odours a nuisance, rather than a health hazard.
Smith says she’s called Metro Vancouver about it more than 10 times, and despite promises for a call back, it’s been radio silence.
Steele and Drex haven’t been able to get an answer from Metro Vancouver either. We also reached out to Harvest Power’s compliance officer, they failed to return e-mails to the Steele & Drex show.
We want to hear from you. Can you smell the Richmond stink? Have you had trouble with this issue? Let us know.