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Waste Management Committee scraps plans to compost food-waste on-Island

Every Wednesday, Bowen's food and garden scraps get hauled off the island to the North Shore Transfer Station.

Every Wednesday, Bowen's food and garden scraps get hauled off the island to the North Shore Transfer Station. For the past year Bowen's Solid Waste Resource Management Committee has spent the past year looking into ways to save the trip off island, but after extensive research, they've decided to scrap plans to compost food waste locally. They are still hoping that garden waste will be processed on-island.

"The big composting facilities that deal with this kind of [food] waste are very smelly, and there have been major complications in other municipalities trying to set them up," says Don Marshall, the chair of the Bowen Island Solid Waste Resource Management Committee (SWRMC).

Residents living nearby the municipal composting facility in Richmond, the final destination for Bowen's organic waste, described the facility's smell as "nauseating," to the Vancouver Sun.

Residents living near a composting facility in the district of Saanich, on Vancouver Island, have taken their municipality to court because of the overwhelming odour in their rural neighbourhood.

Marshall says that if plans go forward to process yard scraps on island, the municipality will save money on transportation and will have a valuable product created here to supplement local gardens.

"The compost is created by making the right mix of things like wood chips and grass clippings," says Marshall. "It acts like the very best fertilizer, providing the nitrogen and carbon necessary for growing things, but with very little odour."

Twin Island Excavating has requested that the Crown Land it currently uses on Radar Hill be re-zoned so that the company could process residential yard scraps. Despite concerns about noise and fire hazards raised by some local residents, council is close to the final approval of this request.

Dave McIntosh, President of Bowen Waste Services, cautions that a plan like this might not be cost-effective for the Municipality.

"If we can't compost the food waste here, now, but we can compost the yard trimmings here, what are the costs in relation to the fact that we still have to take the food waste over in any event?"

McIntosh says he's recently learned of a new composting system that turns large volumes of food waste into clean water, and that new technologies could provide real opportunities for Bowen Island.

Councillor Cro Lucas is the council liaison for the SWRMC, and agrees with McIntosh.

"There are things coming down the pipe in the next 3-5 years that will revolutionize things," says Lucas. "But we've got to be ahead or the curve, because we live on a rock."