District of North Vancouver council members have turned their noses up at a proposal to build an industrial compost plant on the edge of Mount Seymour.
Vancouver-based Anaconda Systems has applied to the province for permission to lease and clear 2.6 hectares of land at the top of the second switchback on Mount Seymour Road, just outside the provincial park boundary.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development is still in consultations with local governments, First Nations and the public on whether to lease the land to Anaconda for a fully enclosed aerobic compost facility.
But after a somewhat hurried vetting by district staff, council said Monday they have jurisdiction over the land use at that site, and an industrial composting would be a non-starter. The land is zoned for park use.
Arguments against Anaconda’s application ranged from the steep and treacherous conditions the Mount Seymour road is known for, already existing traffic problems in the winter, the potential for the site to attract bears and cougars, and noxious smells wafting toward the residential neighbours below.
“I think the Seymour community can rest assured that we don’t really support this location. It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Coun. Roger Bassam.
“It puzzles me how this even got this far,” Mayor Richard Walton added.
Residents in the area were largely aghast at the project when it became public last week. Peter Teevan, vice-chairman of the Seymour Community Association, showed up to urge council to fight the proposal.
“We ask you with respect to act and do something and not just write to them but actively get involved,” he said, suggesting council also publicly lobby against the proposal or suggest another, more fitting location.
While the Mount Seymour location for the proposal was trashed, several members of council noted that the North Shore is one of the few parts of the Lower Mainland that doesn’t have any facilities to process its own green waste. Currently, North Shore residents’ yard trimmings, chicken bones and banana peels are trucked to a disposal site in the Squamish Valley. Prior to that, it was sent to a facility in Richmond that was recently shut down because the company could not contain the stench from the rotting food waste on site.
“If we could handle it here and turn it into compost or some usable material in a site which is conducive to that – an industrial site – that would be a good thing and I think we should take the opportunity to investigate that,” said Coun. Jim Hanson.
District staff are already looking into what technology options are available that would allow a composting plant to be compatible with the rest of the North Shore and surrounding uses, according to district CAO Dave Stewart.
North Vancouver-Seymour Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite issued a statement on Monday saying she too was opposed to the project and that she was dissatisfied with the process.
“It is unacceptable that local MLAs have not been informed of this project that, if approved, could have substantial consequences for North Vancouver residents,” she said. “Mount Seymour is an unsuitable location to construct any sort of industrial facility, let alone a disposal facility—the general consensus amongst my constituents is that this facility is a very poor idea.”