CRD committee votes to investigate biosolids applications outside region

File photo of biosolids

It may not be a glamorous topic, but where to send biosolids from the CRD is creating a stink on Vancouver Island.

The Capital Regional District currently sends its biosolids to the Hartland Landfill, which is against provincial regulations which requires them to have a beneficial use, and now it has to come up with a new plan for the waste.

On Wednesday, the CRD’s Environmental Services Committee voted against the staff recommendation of exploring biosolid applications on its own lands and instead to stay the course.

“We want you to continue to look at the avenues you are already using for short-term management,” said Barb Desjardins, the committee’s chair.

That involves looking at options outside the region, including shipping them up to Cassidy, near Nanaimo to a former quarry owned by Lafarge.

But the Regional District of Nanaimo is railing against the idea. It has sent a letter to the CRD suggesting the most environmental option would be for the CRD to apply the biosolids on its own lands.

“If the board is concerned enough that they are refusing to use land application of biosolids for beneficial use in their region we’re having trouble understanding the rationale for finding it acceptable to use it for that same use in a different area,” said Vanessa Craig, the board chair of the RDN.

The CRD’s chair says the board is between a rock and a hard place.

“The reality is the committee was not really happy with the idea of land application period,” said Dejardins.

There’s also a mountain of scientific data to sift through on the potential negative environmental implications of biosolid applications that the committee has asked CRD staff to look through.

Nanaimo’s board chair says they’ve been applying biosolids locally with no issue for decades and the CRD should have no problem doing the on their own lands, without burning fuel to truck the biosolids elsewhere.

“Currently, our program meets and exceeds all of the regulations required by the province,” said Craig.

Additionally, staff says the current method of sending biosolids to the Hartland landfill comes at a substantial cost.

As a long term solution the CRD is planning a pilot project that would see the biosolids incinerated. The CRD Committee also voted that staff expedite it’s work towards a long term solution. Staff said it would work to submit an application to the province by June 2024.

The committee’s vote to explore biosolid applications outside the CRD only still have to be vote on and approved by the CRD board.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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