Did You Know?

September 7:  ALC Tribunal Upholds Validity of Stop Work Order

The Agricultural Land Commission’s decision on the appeal by Stanhope/Foundation Organics of the January 30, 2014 Stop Work Order (SWO) has just been released.

The Tribunal has determined that the SWO was indeed
“based on sound and reasoned findings” and that CEO Mr. Richard Bullock and staff acted appropriately.  The Commissioners do not agree with submissions by the Appellants and the self-styled “Central Saanich Community” to the contrary. 

The Commissioners have ruled that they’re bound by the Act and were therefore unable to consider issues related to noise, smell and traffic.  But they note that “very few concrete numbers” have been provided and that “not all questions and concerns…have been answered” by the Appellants. 

They recognize that the scale and scope of operations at Stanhope have changed, and state that any compost or importation of farm inputs
“must be necessary for a farm use and commensurate to the size and scale of the farm.”

“Based on the evidence before them, the Appeal Commissioners refuse to grant the relief sought”
by the Appellants to reverse the SWO.  Instead, they have referred the matter back to the CEO with directions to review the Order, consider the change in operations, and determine whether the SWO should be altered or rescinded. 

August 25:
  A Case of Deja Vu

A noble cause (in theory) has been accompanied by the ignoring of Municipal bylaws and the causing of distress for neighbours, and the creation of environmental problems.  Legal guns have been called in, followed by efforts to enlist the loud support of people who don’t live anywhere near the facility.  If it feels like we’ve seen all this before, we have, only this time we’re referring to Woodwynn Farms. 

A resident of Central Saanich, a volunteer chaplain working with the homeless and those in rehab, stated that it’s incumbent upon good service providers to
“help restore people to a place that they can be active responsible law-abiding citizens.  The service agency has a responsibility to model this themselves.  Unfortunately over the last several years, Woodwynn Farm’s actions have given the message that if the bylaw doesn’t fit, either ignore or break it.”  Another Central Saanich resident wrote:  “The operator show[s] a sense of entitlement which can be distilled down to a single phrase – ‘I want to, therefore I can.’”

Woodwynn has mounted a social media campaign to pressure our Municipality into dropping its court action and changing its course – a course clearly outlined in our bylaws, which supposedly apply to us all.  Council has received emails of support for Woodwynn’s rogue direction from people who live most anywhere but in Central Saanich. 

The similarities between the Woodwynn situation and our experience with the composting operation are striking

August 6:  The Truth is Incontrovertible – Part 2

A U.S. judge recently imposed a $1.3 billion penalty against Bank of America (BAC) for its role in selling risky mortgages – a practice BAC knew to be wrong.  The judge stated that the Bank was “driven by a hunger for profits and oblivious to the harms thereby visited.”  We find this wilful blindness repeated again and again, sadly even close to home.

The CRD, the ALC and our District of Central Saanich (in other words, taxpayers) have spent major resources trying to bring Foundation Organics into compliance with bylaws and regulations – the same rules that were in place before their composting licence was even issued - and, finally, to try to stop the prohibited activities entirely. 

Yet the documentation provided to the ALC’s Tribunal in June showed that those laws were largely disregarded.  For the lengthy, sorry catalogue of mistreatment of Stanhope’s neighbours and of our bylaws - including commercial trucking operations, middle of the night wood-waste grinding noise, massive truck traffic, pet aquamation and, of course, the atrocious compost stench – as recorded by our Municipality’s Bylaw Enforcement Officer, read the full affidavit and log:

Sample Log Entries:

June 24, 2013:  “They…stated that we may as well start issuing tickets because they have no intention to pay the tickets anyways – they’ll just forward the tickets to [their lawyer] to dispute them.”

September 4, 2013:  
Matt Mansell confirmed that they are continuing to receive food waste from the cruise ships and are feeding it to the seven pigs that they have on-site.  Mr. Mansell agreed that seven pigs can’t eat a semi-truck full of food waste daily.”

October 17, 2013: Y
ou’ll have to read about this temper tantrum yourselves!

“The truth  is incontrovertible. 

Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it,

but in the end, there it is.”    -  Winston Churchill

July 29:  
The Truth is Incontrovertible - Part 1

While we wait for the ALC's Tribunal to make its determination, we have interesting reading in the thousands of pages of evidence submitted to the Commissioners last month.  One document among the many that stand out is the Affidavit and Activity Log kept by Ken Neurauter, our Central Saanich Bylaw Enforcement Officer.  This log, up to May of this year, ran to 250 pages with all the supporting evidence. 

In it, we have confirmation that the District of Central Saanich advised Stanhope in December 2010 that the commercial sale of compost wasn't permitted under Bylaw 1309.  In January 2011, the FO operators submitted a Revised Operating Plan claiming that all composted material would be used on Stanhope land.   Yet there were confirmed reports as early as June 2011 that compost was being sold to Peninsula Landscaping, and then to Trio, Marigold, Kimoff, Arbutus Grove, Tervita, the Songhees Reserve and DND (as well as to Aces, from resident accounts), in spite of denials by the Stanhope/Foundation Organics operators.

The documentation shows that compost sales were still ongoing in May of this year.

Log Entry, May 7, 2014:   “[Kimoff owner] met me at the compost pile and also confirmed that they had just bought 140 yards of compost material from Foundation Organics.”

Our great thanks to Ken Neurauter for his detailed, professional work and to our Mayor, Councillors and our District Administration for their past and ongoing work to uphold our bylaws.July 14:  CRD Litigation Delayed


Section 6.1 of the CRD Bylaw No. 2736 governing composting facilities states:  "No discharger shall operate a …composting facility in a manner that creates or results in litter, dust (spores or other particulates, odours or vectors so as to pose a risk to public health or the environment or constitute a public nuisance."

Yet a
n application by Foundation Organics Ltd., Foundation Organics Ltd. dba Stanhope Dairy Farm, Mathew Mandell and Robert Rendle to have the charges dismissed on the grounds that the CRD did not have jurisdiction to regulate public nuisances was heard earlier this month in Provincial Court.  The argument was that the jurisdiction is with the Province pursuant to the regulation of air contaminants and pollution within the Environmental Management Act; and further that the District of Central Saanich has jurisdiction over public nuisance, not the CRD.

There was an issue as to the ramifications of the charges while the licence was suspended, but that argument will be left for another day. The recycler's licence was suspended and not revoked and Foundation Organics Ltd. continued composting during this timeframe and failed to comply with the initial order granted in August to stop composting food waste and then failed to comply with the order to remove the existing compost that was made by the CRD on October 11, 2013.

The Provincial Court Judge raised an issue as to whether the Provincial Court has jurisdiction to declare a bylaw invalid and sought submissions from counsel.  After hearing from counsel, the Judge stated words to the effect that he was not certain if the Provincial Court had jurisdiction and referred the matter to the Supreme Court on this issue.  

Foundation Organics Ltd., if they want to proceed with this defence, will now have to apply to the Supreme Court for a determination on the validity of the bylaw.  Depending on when and if Foundation Organics Ltd. determines they want to proceed with their challenge to the bylaw, the process, once they have filed a Petition in the Supreme Court, will take at least 6 months before the matter can return to the Provincial Court for the trial on the charges laid. 

As the above-noted CFAX report states:  “One practical effect of the decision is another delay in concluding the matter.”  And we ask:  Who benefits from any delay?  It wouldn’t be in the best interests of the Applicants, Stanhope Farm/Foundation Organics, would it?

July 10: 
Here We Go Again -  Central Saanich as The Wild West


This all sounds so bizarrely familiar:  Someone whose land is in the ALR decides to go rogue, ignore bylaws and the rest of the community, and thumb his nose at everyone.  For once we’re not referring to Stanhope Farms and Foundation Organics.

Woodwynn Farms tried to rezone their property for commercial or institutional uses - to allow dormitories, a retail market, a craft workshop, museum and gallery, a restaurant and café, kitchen and dining hall, an outdoor market and a performance stage.  Did they leave
anything out? 

The District of Central Saanich denied their rezoning application, so Woodwynn applied to the ALC for a non-farm use classification – and was refused.  But did that stop them?  No.  They went ahead and “developed the property for non-farm use including a residential program, offices, staff housing, a coffee shop, retail store and a yoga studio,” plus allowed recreational vehicles, mobile homes, tents and outhouses – and ran afoul of B.C. Building Codes as well.

In the case of Woodwynn, their motives may be noble, but the route they’ve taken certainly isn’t.  Where do some people get the idea that rules don’t apply to them?  To quote Esquimalt’s Mayor Barb Desjardins,
“I don’t understand what you’re not understanding and how you are wishing to subvert a normal process.” 

July 9:
The ALC Appeal Hearing Official Transcript

The June 19 Appeal Hearing concluded early, but still generated a lengthy official transcript.  For those who weren't able to attend the Hearing, here are the full 111 pages of the document:


Some Highlights:

Ray Baker:
  “In a letter from Stanhope’s law firm, the firm states that some of the documentation is not available. They claim that the farm has an “Organic” style of record keeping. I asked two separate accountants if they had ever heard of this “organic record keeping.” Neither one had so I could not find a definition for organic record keeping. My best guess would be that the basic principle is that if you don’t keep good records you don’t  have to produce good records.”

Michele Bond:
“Since Foundation Organics partnered with Stanhope, there has been a history of non-compliance with the rules and regulations that govern this operation. The ALC Act, Central Saanich bylaws and the CRD bylaws have all been violated to a large degree and we have been a direct witness to these violations.”

Rebecca Cotterell:  “Whether by inexperience or poor management, the composting facility consistently failed to meet bylaw regulations with regard to litter, odour and vector; and so doing, grievously trespassed on the property rights of others… Documents supplied to the tribunal show a clear and consistent pattern of regulatory abuse: commercial enterprise on land taxed for farm use; misrepresentation of available land on license application, disregard of license limits; failure to adhere to the operating plan, or to utilize nuisance protocols in the manner specified by the operating plan; routine commercial sales of compost, wood chips or in combination with manure, deliberate disregard of removal order issued by the CRD.  All with an overwhelming impact on the surrounding properties.”

June 25: 
ALC Needs Regulatory Teeth

Thanks to the many who were able to attend the ALC Appeal Hearing last week and show support for the actions of the ALC, the CRD and our District of Central Saanich – as well as cheering on our excellent community representatives!  Your applause for our speakers and your restrained, respectful manner during the presentation by the spokesperson for the  “Central Saanich Community” (representing the family and friends of the Appellants) were much appreciated.  And we noted that Mayor Bryson and a number of Councillors (Cathie Ounsted, Ryan Windsor and Alicia Cormier) were in attendance for at least part of the proceedings.

When the Tribunal renders its decision in a few weeks, it will make one of three determinations:  To uphold the Stop Work Order, to rescind it, or to refer the Order back to the person who made the original decision, "with or without directions."  The Commissioners were provided with much indisputable documentation that the SWO had been issued with ample cause and that it has been violated regularly since.  The District of Central Saanich’s bylaw officer confirmed this with an affidavit that included a detailed log
over 50 pages long recording the infractions by Stanhope/Foundation Organics. 

A significant portion of the ALC’s time, focus, staffing and legal resources is being taken up by this one file.  And yet, the three determinations listed above are all the options open to the ALC.  Why?  There's no point to having rules if they can’t be reasonably monitored and enforced.  Competent teachers and parents know that the consequences of an unwanted action must be immediate and appropriate.  The police refer to this as the broken window syndrome:  We fix the problems when they are small, otherwise the problems escalate.  If the ALC had been able to clamp down on this commercial operation by closely monitoring, demanding records and assessing fines from the very beginning, this case may not have gone off the rails so badly. 

The ALC needs regulatory teeth.  Perhaps there will never again be another egregious outlier but, if there is, the ALC must be prepared.

June 19: 
The ALC Appeal Hearing

Thank you to the many concerned residents of Tanner Ridge, Martindale and Hunt Valley for taking the time to attend the hearing today!  You were treated to an interesting hearing and process, and learned even more about the many issues surrounding Stanhope Farm and their operation. 

We're indebted to our community representatives for their clear, concise and eloquent speeches.

June 8:   Waiting for the June 19 ALC Appeal Hearing

The ALC received six intervener applications for its Stop Work Order (SWO) appeal hearing, and granted them all.   Five of the six intervener groups (the CRD, the District of Central Saanich, and three community submissions) take the position that the SWO was issued for ample just cause and should be upheld.

Our communities’ thanks to those who worked on our various resident submissions.  The Tanner Ridge submission was fortunate to have had the input and help of a number of talented people – you know who you are!  We all appreciate the work these people put into representing the interests of our communities.

May 30:
 When Money and Politics Trump Health

Shawnigan Lake residents have held bottle drives and sock hops to raise $250,000 to fight a permit to dump contaminated soil near the watershed that supplies drinking water to 7,000 people.  The Cobble Hill community has dealt with all the adverse effects, familiar to those who live in the Martindale/Hunt Valley/Tanner Ridge neighbourhoods, of having a kitchen waste facility located nearby, plus aquifer safety concerns.  Cobble Hill residents have written letters, attended meetings, and have even driven down to Victoria to present their case to the CRD to bring attention to Saanich’s contract with Fisher Road Recycling. 

Now they’ve been informed that approval has been given for an almost-doubling of kitchen waste inputs into their local composting plant.  As the CVRD director for Cobble Hill states: 
“It’s unfortunate one community (Saanich) would sully another because of poor planning,” and notes that it’s “a situation that’s been troublesome since 2006, but still the impacts are felt on the community.”  Since 2006!

Don’t communities have the right to clean air, clean water and the enjoyment of their homes and properties?  How can we stand by and allow monetary or political interests to trump those rights?  Would any of the other twelve Greater Victoria municipalities welcome what Cobble Hill and Central Saanich have gone through?  Would you?

May 28: 
Province Upholds Local Community Rights

It’s official:  The Province won’t step in to the McLoughlin Point sewage debate.  As Minister Polak stated:   “At the end of the day, it is quite proper for the local governments, who are elected by their taxpaying public…to resolve these issues themselves.” 

Esquimalt’s Mayor, its Council and the Esquimalt community have succeeded in stopping Seaterra’s sewage plan cold.  Esquimalt Council listened to its citizens and took the difficult and courageous path of putting the interests of its community first. 

To quote that famous philosopher, Don Rickles: 
"Not everyone's gonna love you.  But when you get a majority on your side, you've got a chance." 

In our own local industrial/commercial kitchen waste misadventure, the District of Central Saanich listened to its residents and realized it had the right
and the obligation to step in when our wider community’s best interest (in our case - to clean, healthy air) was threatened, and to enforce our municipal bylaws.  It was - and continues to be - the right thing to do.

May 24: 
North Saanich Joins the Conversation

At its April 7 meeting, North Saanich Council passed the following resolution:

"That the District of North Saanich join other regional municipalities in asking that the CRD be responsible for the composting of kitchen waste and consider a site at Hartland landfill or other equally proximate location in the region."

There's a groundswell of support for a CRD-run regional facility.

May 18: 
When Stink Becomes Air Pollution

One of the requirements of the CRD’s now-defunct Recycler’s Licence to Foundation Organics was that odours were not to extend past the property line of the compost plant.  But instead, the odours created were carried far and wide by prevailing winds, with the result that the CRD pulled their composting licence.  The CRD's actions were held to be fair and reasonable by the B.C. Supreme Court.

But did you know that under the province’s Waste Management Act, it is prohibited to release odours that cause pollution?   A B.C. court defined air pollution as
“the presence in the air of any substance (including odours) that causes or is capable of causing material physical discomfort to a person.” The judge in the case stressed that it’s not enough that the odour be unpleasant:  The physical discomfort must be material - it must have  physiological effects such as nausea, gagging, coughing, eyes watering, headaches or an aggravation of an existing condition such as asthma.  

The residents of the Martindale, Hunt Valley and Tanner Ridge communities smelled the stink, identified the source of the stench, described the odour and many were made sick by it with - as listed above - nausea, gagging, coughing, eyes watering, headaches and aggravation of existing medical conditions, among other symptoms.   The physical discomfort was most definitely
material and, by that court ruling, this was most definitely air pollution

May 14:  
Have You Noticed?

Victoria had one of its best summers ever last year.  But if you live anywhere downwind of Foundation Organics, you likely behaved as if we were undergoing a nuclear winter:  Hunkering indoors, all windows and doors firmly closed, fans on for (very warm) air movement, battling any number of strong physical reactions to the stench, not wanting to venture out for walks, barbeques, or to enjoy gardens and decks.  The Hunt Valley/Martindale and Tanner Ridge areas had arguably the worst summer ever in 2013.

That makes what’s happening so far this year striking in its contrast:

It’s Tuesday, May 13 and I just came back from my second walk through the neighbourhood in two days with warm temperatures, clear skies - and no smell - and both days I have observed more people walking than I did all of last summer.  – Geppert Family, Tanner Ridge

My husband and I were driving home after being out for dinner, with car windows down to enjoy the neighbourhood and the evening air.  I noted that in the last few days we've already had more use and enjoyment of our neighbourhood, yard and patio than for ALL of last year.  – Dolores Bell
, Tanner Ridge

It’s mid-May in a new year - a year that we hope continues to be vastly different (i.e.
vastly better) than the last.

May 9:
Is Creating Stink a Right on Farmland?

Farm "aromas" result from many typical farm activities, as anyone who lives on farms in the Martindale/Hunt Valley, uses Lochside Trail, or lives within a kilometre or so of farmland in the area will know.   But even these “normal farm practices” don’t provide an inherent licence to adversely affect others. 

Did you know that B.C.’s Farm Practices Board has ruled that standard farming practices require showing consideration for one’s neighbours?  As the Board noted, it
isn’t proper practice for farmers to run their farms in ways that expose their neighbours to invasive and overwhelming odours, and without taking reasonable steps to mitigate those odours. 

And when those odours are persistent and carried a number of kilometres on prevailing winds - to Keating, Brentwood Bay, Mount Newton Cross and down to Elk/Beaver Lakes - as was so often the case with Foundation Organics' operation, then all those who were negatively impacted had every right to complain.  A person's right to clean, healthy air supersedes any perceived right to create stink.

But then, composting on an industrial scale was never a "normal farm practice."

May 6:
How to Get Your Community's Attention

Odour.  Smell.  Stink.  Stench.  Those living anywhere near Foundation Organics have come to know these terms and their underlying reality very well. Month after month of unrelenting stink, odour, smell and stench did tend to focus and electrify hundreds of people in our diverse communities.

Did you know that the ability to detect an odour varies from person to person?  This “skill” can be shaped by how long someone is exposed to the stink, the intensity of the stench, its frequency and duration, as well as temperature, humidity and wind patterns. 

Once an odour is concentrated enough to be recognizable, then we can use subjective descriptors such as
rancid, fruity, rotting, putrid, sewage-like, sweet, musty, etc., as found in the online complaint form set up by the CRD to handle the flood of odour complaints about Foundation Organics.

April 30: 
Part 2 - Where Do We Go From Here?

At their April meeting, the CRD Board awarded a contract to Emterra to haul and process kitchen waste off-island.  But that contract has flexibility:  It allows municipalities to participate or not, and for shorter periods of time than to the end of 2015.  As Director Ben Isitt notes:  "I do not see the city [Victoria] relying on the Emterra contract after 2014." 

CRD Chair and Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson has revisited the idea of using Hartland as a temporary solution to the kitchen waste issue while a more permanent resolution is found.  But not to landfill kitchen scraps.  Instead, he envisions storing organics at Harland, and capturing the resulting methane gas to generate electricity.  This would provide benefits that relying on the expensive interim contract with Emterra wouldn't.    

In upcoming workshops and meetings, the CRD’s Environmental Services Committee and CRD staff will look at alternatives for the disposal of our region’s kitchen waste.  While anticipating that these workshops and meetings will yield a number of options, Director Bryson feels that this Hartland idea should
"receive due consideration again  -  when the idea was first suggested by staff, I was more focused on finding a long-term solution and so gave the idea of an interim approach less consideration than it perhaps deserved.    

Whether publicly or privately operated, a quality, long-term approach to processing of diverted organics will most likely require a significant capital investment… [An] interim approach may help us to rationalize the waste stream (both in terms of quality and quantity) and it would also provide more time to secure the necessary commitments from participants to justify the required capital investment.  An interim approach will also allow us to research what synergies are available if the Seaterra Resource Recovery Centre is also built at Hartland in the next few years.”

By putting in place a process that allows
all options to be presented and discussed, with costs and other ramifications considered, the CRD should, we hope, end up with rational interim and long-term regional plans - and avoid a repetition of the unfortunate Foundation Organics composting debacle.

April 24: 
Where Do We Go From Here?

As a result of the composting debacle following the opening of Foundation Organics, the CRD has come to understand that the perfect storm of the wrong operator using the wrong process in the wrong location can’t be allowed to happen again.  Been there, done that.  If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then handing kitchen waste back to a private operator – let alone THIS private operator – would likely qualify. 

In the immediate short-term, the CRD’s temporary solution has been the awarding of the contract to Emterra to haul and process kitchen waste off-island. 

But where do we go long-term?  Do we build a composting facility at Hartland?  Do we truck our waste to a reserve on the Malahat?  As the Times Colonist noted in a recent editorial: 
“The CRD staff has recommended a workshop in the next couple of months so directors can look at long-term solutions.  That’s a good plan, but no workshop will result in any cheap and easy solutions.  We used those up a long time ago.”

Vic Derman, a Saanich Councillor and a CRD Environmental Services Committee Director, has long advocated for technology that makes lasting sense, both in the process used and as a means to recover energy from kitchen waste.  Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, also an ESC Director, has suggested that the CRD needs to change its mindset about centralized sewage treatment and consider building decentralized wastewater facilities.    http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-crd-proceeding-without-clear-sewage-plan-1.978858

Perhaps it’s time we re-think the model for kitchen waste too.  Perhaps composting isn’t the only viable – or even the best - option.  Perhaps it’s time to look at
all available options, including waste-recovery technologies.

As Central Saanich resident Carl Eriksen points out, whichever path we
go down, the CRD must handle it and not contract it out to private business, in order to:
1.       Ensure the latest technology and best practice are implemented.
2.       Avoid having the CRD being held ransom every time a new contract    would have to be negotiated with a private operator. It would not be a competitive market once an operator were selected.
3.       Make sure that, if the final product is compost, it be made available locally at a reasonable price.

Mayor/Director Desjardins has urged:
“Pause.  Halt.  Stop the spending of the region’s residents’ money until we have a better plan.”  Wise words when dealing with both sewage and kitchen waste.

April 19: 
Operational Plan NOT Followed

Not only was Foundation Organics processing far more kitchen waste than it could use on its own land, but the CRD’s Qualified Expert (QP) found that the facility didn’t follow its own Operational Plan, the crucial underpinning for the granting of its Recycler’s License.   http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/14/00/2014BCSC0085.htm

For example, windrow composting requires the piling of waste in long rows, which are then turned to increase oxygen content and feed the aerobic bacteria that help speed the composting process.  Waste gasses are produced by this method.  If the windrows aren’t properly cured (the time allowed is too short, or the piles are too wet or too high) it stinks – and badly. 

The QP found that the windrows at FO were not cured properly.  According to the B.C. Supreme Court judgement of January 2014, FO
was given opportunities to make changes to their operation, but did not do so, and Tanner Ridge, Martindale and Hunt Valley residents suffered the months and months of unrelenting Great Stink. 

April 16: 
Too Much Waste for Too Little Land

The Agricultural Land Commission supports composting for agricultural use.  Good compost is important to the regeneration of a farm’s soil, helping to ensure quality crop production - and the farm’s viability. 

In the case of Foundation Organics’ operation, there were many issues as identified by Mr. Timmenga, the CRD’s Qualified Expert (QP) who inspected their facility.
  Chief among the QP’s findings was that FO accepted larger volumes than their Recyclers' license allowed.  Given that Central Saanich requires in its bylaw that 100% of the compost generated on a farm must be used to replenish that same farm’s soil, it soon became apparent that the size of this farm couldn’t possibly accommodate all the material being processed. 

April 12:  Our Community Speaks - Again

Our community concerns were well represented and some of the viable kitchen waste processsing alternatives were proposed by the speakers at the CRD Board meeting held April 9.  Here are excerpts from some of the presentations:

Councillor Zeb King co-wrote an op-ed piece with CRD Director Ben Isitt for the Times Colonist.  As Councillor King said in his presentation:  "I am from Central Saanich where the motto on our crest is that we are 'the land of plenty.'  I assure you that 'the land of plenty' means we have plenty of farmland, plenty of goodwill and plenty of patience.  That patience has been tested with the strong stink of kitchen scraps.  But we still come to the region with helpful solutions and goodwill.

Brenda Antonson:  Since the municipalities have implemented a costly program to separate kitchen scraps, it would be a simple matter to keep it separated at Hartland, capture the [methane] gas and let it bio-degrade naturally and then retrieve it at a later date as compost.

Ray Baker:  "The issue is that there was not a process set up to ensure that food waste compost would be affordable to a farmer...Let's not move sideways with a band-aid approach.  Let's more forward to where the puck will be."

Anna Clemente:  "Our neighbours in Martindale and Hunt Valley have endured so much more for much longer.  Imagine this on a daily, constant  basis - heavy truck traffic on the Lochside Trail, relentless noise and alarms from the grinders and fans, dust and litter with an increased population of rats that have even spread up to Tanner Ridge...This is a regional issue and should be administered at a regional level.  The solution is not to transport our kitchen scraps over the Malahat or to Richmond even on a temporary basis.  We are only shifting the problem to another community."

Rebecca Cotterell:  "There are lessons to be learned from the debacle with Foundation Organics and this instance of private sector farm composting as a way to manage kitchen food scraps.  As stewards of the public trust, it is incumbent upon you to recognize a misstep when it occurs and to reconsider policy when it is not in the public interest...I think a wise first step would be to take the arbitrary effective date of January 1, 2015 off the table so you can make the best decision possible rather than the best decision consistent with that date...Publicly operated utilities keep bylaw compliance because it is part of their mandate."

Ken Marriette:  "On the positive side, I think we have all learned where NOT to place a food scraps waste program...There's a local company whose slogan is 'Do it Once - Do it Right.'  Well, the opportunity was clearly missed to do it right the first time."

Councillor Cathie Ounsted spoke as a Central Saanich resident:  "I think the ban of January 2015 was premature without proper facilities in place...I urge you to find a well-thought-out, permanent regional solution to composting...Please do not come up with a knee-jerk solution that will not fit the bill for our long-term needs, keeping in mind to check the boxes on the three-pillar analysis of environmental, social and economic responsibilities to our communities."

Councillor Ryan Windsor also spoke as a community member: 
"I’m here to express my own concerns with regard to the ongoing debate regarding an in-region solution as part of the Regional Kitchen Scraps Strategy.  As you heard earlier today, the District of Central Saanich Council passed motions resulting in letters in September 2013 and again in January asking the CRD to make space available at the Hartland Landfill site for kitchen scraps processing.  It appears despite that first letter some 8 months ago little progress has been made on potentially implementing a site at Hartland Landfill."

April 6:  
Paying the Price in Yet Another Way

Taxes in Central Saanich are going up:  Residential properties will pay 3.11 percent more in 2014, about $50. more per household.  Some department budgets are actually down:  Police services, engineering, public works and transportation services. 

What’s costing more?  Our bylaw enforcement department budget is up by over $192,000.  Speaks volumes about the further - financial - burden we all carry when our bylaws aren't respected.

April 4:  History Repeats

Our neighbours in Cobble Hill are experiencing many of the same issues with their compost facility, Fisher Road Recycling, as we’ve endured with Foundation Organics.  Unfortunately, they’ve been dealing with their problem for at least 12 years.  Their composting facility is located on industrial, not agricultural land, but otherwise their fight seems really familiar.  http://vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1024490

Their community held a heated three-hour public hearing earlier this week, packing their local hall. According to residents who attended, not a single voice was raised in support of expanding the nearby compost facility, as has been requested by the company.  Based on our experience here in Central Saanich, we can certainly understand their concerns about odour, water and air quality, and vermin.  And now the residents are concerned that Esquimalt may also elect to partner with Saanich and send waste to Cobble Hill.  That community of 7,000 is asking that it not become Greater Victoria’s garbage dump.

But wait, there's more:  Are you aware that the Shawnigan Lake community is concerned about a major risk to their public water supply?  South Island Aggregates has a Ministry of Environment permit to build a “remediation facility” for 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil a year, much of it to come from Greater Victoria, in a quarry in the headwaters of the Shawnigan Lake watershed.  That community is asking that it not become Greater Victoria’s toxic waste dump. 

April 2: 
How Bad a Smell, Really?

If you don’t live in the Central Saanich areas affected by the Foundation Organics commercial composting operation, you might not be aware of how nasty the stink was throughout last summer, into the fall and December - and even at times this year.

A massive stink cloud was carried on prevailing winds that would blanket the Tanner Ridge community or shift and hit Keating and even carry into Brentwood.  At times, the stench was evident as far north as Mount Newton or down into the Elk and Beaver Lake areas.  Other times, the major residential areas were spared while the Martindale and Hunt Valley communities were choked out.

The stench has been so bad that over 2,000 formal complaints have been filed with the CRD, as well as the many hundreds of complaints to the Municipality and to the Agricultural Land Commission.  Residents report they have experienced coughing fits, burning of eyes and nasal passages, worsening of existing health conditions (asthma, cancer, immune system issues), and worry about long-term effects of the off-gassing.

One’s home is supposedly one’s castle but in the affected areas, hundreds of residents spent what was arguably the best summer on record as
prisoners in their homes, unable to open windows and doors or enjoy their gardens and decks.

As CTV News reporter Stephanie Sherlock acknowledged on-air on August 23,
“If you haven’t been out to Central Saanich to experience the smell, it is truly, overwhelmingly putrid.”   Really.



The Issues

1.  The composting facility was a non-farm use of agricultural land, as determined by the Agricultural Land Commission.

2.  Foundation Organics operated as a commercial, industrial facility, yet was paying farm taxes.

3.  This industrial business was sited in a busy farm/residential/recreational area.

4.   All compost generated must be used to enrich the soil on the farm, not sold.  One of the Municipality's lawsuits claims that compost was sold in contravention of bylaws.

5.  The amount of kitchen waste FO handled was beyond what would have been needed for their farm's land area and nutrient requirements.

6.  Foundation Organics wanted to almost double the amount of waste it was legally allowed to handle. 

7.  Putrid odours extended well beyond the waste facility's boundaries and were often unrelenting.

8.  Many people became ill.  Were we safe?

9.  Hundreds of residents lost the enjoyment of their homes and properties for most of last year.

10.  Significant rat infestations were reported.

11. The facility continued to operate in spite of the CRD license suspension.

12. As well as the CRD's kitchen scraps, Foundation Organics hauled waste from restaurants, grocery stores and cruise ships into our local community.

13. Four lawsuits are pending.


It's Been a Massive

Stink Cloud!

Originally the Cloud of Compost Stink was thought to be more confined (see image below.)  We now know from resident reports that prevailing winds carried the putrid stench even into Brentwood, up to Mount Newton and south to Elk/Beaver Lakes and even Royal Oak, affecting many thousands of people. 

Rats and Compost: 

Another Pesky Issue

Jan. 22, 2014:  A Central Saanich Road homeowner reports that in the six years he's lived here, he's never had rats in his home.  But that changed recently as he had to pay an exterminator to kill 5 large rats and chase a sixth rat away.

Jan. 21
More reports of rat sightings and trappings in the Tanner Ridge neighbourhood, in what appears to be a significant infestation.

Dec. 13:  It seems that the area continues to be plagued by rats.  As neighbours report:  The rats are looking for more food and one neighbour trapped four in just three days.  There are more yet, given the continued droppings. 

What on earth is THAT doing here?
Oct. 12: A couple of days ago, Liz Curnow on Rey Road asked, “Do you know if anyone is having a problem with rats? We have for the last few years and it is increasing - caught 5 in two days this week in our garden. 

Not sure if this is related but highly coincidental - be interesting to see if
anyone else is having a similar problem. Our immediate neighbour also has rats.”

To which a number of others have responded:

"Yes, we have had more rats this year than I can remember."

“Yes, we have put out our traps again this fall and we have caught 3 this week. I almost hate to admit it but we have caught a significant number over the last couple of years. Not pleasant.” 

“YES, we have had rats in our garden/backyard since last year. My husband has several mouse traps out and we get one every week at least.”

What could possibly have caused a rat infestation in our communities? Couldn't have been the new, putrid supply of food that was so easily available, could it? 


Russ Smith
Senior Manager
CRD Environmental Resource 

Colin Fry

Director, Agricultural Land Commission

Ryan Windsor

Mayor, Central Saanich

Mary Polak


Minister of Environment

Shirley Bond

Minister of Tourism

Norm Letnick


Minister of Agriculture

Terry Lake

Minister of Health


Not Breathing is


an Option

Families in our neighbourhoods, like this one, deserve to enjoy their homes and gardens.  Being forced to live indoors all year round, with doors and windows shut, is not acceptable.


Tanner Ridge Family


Peninsula Gems

Marsh Farm

Location:  7337 Wallace Dr.
Open:  Tuesday to Sunday

Just three years ago, Evelyn Marsh created a beautiful organic farm on her 2.5 acres of land.  Visit her extensive gardens of raised beds to see a large array of vegetables, herbs and berries. 

You’ll enjoy the gentle walk as you pick the produce you want – that’s the ultimate in fresh! – or you can see what’s fresh-picked in the farm’s cooler.   And, if you have mobility issues, not to worry:  Evelyn provides a couple of golf carts for easy access, allowing customers to drive between the raised beds and reach all the crops.  It doesn’t get much better than this!


The Lochside Trail, Michell Farms and Winkel’s Pig Farm

We’re blessed to have the multi-use Lochside Trail so nearby.  This great, flat trail provides for a beautiful ride, walk, run or stroll through the fields and farms of our rural peninsula.

And what better place to visit while on the trail than Michell Farms

Location:  2451 Island View Rd.
Open:  Daily, all year 

We recall that Vern Michell turned down the lucrative Saanich kitchen waste contract last year, opting to keep farming, doing what his family has done so well for six generations.

This family-run operation encompasses hundreds of acres, and provides a wide variety of fresh produce and fruit, as well as their own grass-raised beef, making it a popular stop on the Trail, or as a shopping destination.  The Michells also provide a field for the use of model-airplane enthusiasts. 

Michell Farms deserves our thanks and our support:  Shop Locally!

And as you go further south on the Trail, at 6505 Lochside, you’ll see Winkel’s Pig Farm, a popular attraction.  There you’ll be treated to pigs enjoying the Trail from their side of the fence.  If the pigs aren’t in their roadside pen, they may be in the barn having their piglets.

Silver Rill Farm

Location:  7117 Central Saanich Rd.
  Daily, June to end-October, 9 -6

The go-to name for fresh, sweet corn on the Peninsula is, arguably, the Fox family’s Silver Rill Farm.  They tell us that this year they planted 37 varieties of corn!  Three generations of this farm family have provided our communities with fresh-picked corn and a variety of vegetables and berries.   Shop locally!

De Vine Vineyards

Location:  6181 Old West Saanich Rd.
Open:  Daily in the summer to the end of September - Weekdays 12 p.m. to  5 p.m.  Weekends  11 a.m.  to  6 p.m. 
From October on: Weekends only.

The Windsor family bought 24 acres on Old West Saanich Road in 2007 and created the beautiful grounds, vineyard, winery and tasting room now on display.  Enjoy a glass of Pinot Gris, Syrah or Pinot Noir on their large patio and take in the panoramic view overlooking farmland, Mt. Baker and the Islands.  Or try their Grüner Veltliner, an unusual Austrian white wine grape variety.  This family of risk-takers is always looking to expand their offerings.  Watch for the addition of food options later this year.

Our area of the Peninsula has returned to being a terrific place to live, play and shop!



Did You Know?

Mar. 27:  When A Stop Work Order Doesn't Mean Much

On Tuesday, in spite of the Stop Work Order, the roads around Stanhope/Foundation Organics saw a lot of traffic and mess as trucks took in fill – in quantities that appear to be well over the ALC’s stated fill limit, and likely not allowed under Central Saanich bylaws.  Neighbours took many photos and reported the scope of the traffic and the fill to the government agencies involved in this ongoing and mind-boggling tale. 

There have been many protestations by the compost facility's spokespeople that the rules were followed, that they have been - and are - complying with regulations, that this sorry mess is not of their making.  Yet these credible, on-the-ground reports continue to contradict these claims.

Mar. 21:  A Must-Watch - Deja Vu from 2010

Stanhope Dairy Farm sold its milk quota in 2009 in preparation for going into the composting business.  Their new operation, Foundation Organics, was sited on that former dairy farm land - as a commercial, industrial operation on agricultural land, paying farm taxes.  Nice perk if you can get it! 

Some would have us believe that all was well with this business until pampered elites on Tanner Ridge started to complain in
2013 about what the facility operators say should have been taken as normal farm smells.

Well, maybe not.  This news item from November 2010, years before Tanner Ridge residents organized to protect their air quality, health and property values, clearly shows that the same problems existed from the very beginning, just affecting a smaller number of people - Foundation Organics' neighbouring farmers and other residents in the Martindale and Hunt Valley areas.   Not until 2013 did anyone pay attention to their suffering.

Farm Compost Facility Has Nearby Neighbours Steaming

Mar. 19:   "Just a Few" Residents Affected - NOT!

Last August, two residents mounted a campaign to petition Premier Christy Clark to intervene in what had become a quality of life, health and environmental crisis for our communities.  Sanda and Dan Gheorghiu, over just a few days of door-knocking and liasing with neighbours, collected
262 signatures of people who were badly affected by the "obnoxious by-products" from the commercial composting plant sited on nearby Stanhope Farm.   The couple ended their time-consuming drive, deciding they had enough signatures to get the Premier's attention.

And the Premier's response? 
She informed the petitioners of what they already knew:  That the CRD had suspended the Foundation Organics composting license earlier that month.  Too bad that hadn't changed anything for the 262 petitioners and for the hundreds more who never had the opportunity to sign.