By J.W. Schnarr
An application for a compost facility located at the Taber landfill west of town has been struck down by the Municipal District of Taber Subdivision and Development Authority.
During their regular meeting on April 20, the SDA defeated a motion to accept the application by Bio-Can by a count of three to two. Interim Reeve Dwight Tolton and Division 6 Coun. Duff Dunsmore voted to approve the application, while Division 5 Coun. Bob Wallace, Division 1 Coun. Merrill Harris, and Division 4 Coun. and SDA Chair Ben Elfring voted against.
“We obviously respect the M.D.’s decision,” said Don Francis of Bio-Can, in an interview following the meeting. “We’re going to continue to pursue other opportunities we’ve identified in the region, and we do intend to partner with the Town of Taber to provide them with a solution for organics and recycling.”
Francis said the company has not yet had an opportunity to discuss whether they are planning on appealing the decision, and that would likely be part of their discussion on which direction they should now move in.
Following the vote, the authority discussed its reasoning behind the failed motion. The majority of concerns of those who voted against the application were regarding nuisance odours which could be an issue for residents living in the area as well as recreational facilities such as the M.D. of Taber Park.
“I agree with everything there except for the issue of odour (entering surrounding residential development and recreational development),” said Wallace.
“You have to take into consideration the enjoyment for people,” added Elfring.
It was noted that the Town of Taber has expressed no issues or concerns regarding odours or other nuisance issues with regards to the development.
Francis said he understood the concerns put forth by the authority.
“I think those concerns are valid,” he said. “It’s something that is a reality of our industry. I believe (the SDA) did a very thorough job at evaluating all the information they had, and they made the right decision for their interests. We respect that.”
The proposed 14-acre site would be a compost facility capable of taking in 20,000 tonnes of organic waste per year and could create as much as 10,000 tonnes of compost annually, which would be handed over to the town. However, there has been some criticism over the project in regards to how the facility would operate in regards to other municipalities which make use of the facility, and concerns from landowners and user groups in the area regarding odour and insect problems. Bio-Can representatives have made several presentations in the area over the past several months in an effort to allay those concerns.
Additionally, Daniel Derksen attended the meeting and spoke about issues with the development area in regards to nearby land currently leased by the Taber Nighthawks RC Flying Club.
Derksen said the club is currently leasing 10 acres from the town just south of the proposed area. They have a flyover area which currently covers the proposed development area, however, and the club would be forced to close if the application went through.
“The gases in our airplanes, and the batteries, if they go into that compost, it would contaminate it,” he said. He added the members of the club carry insurance against unforeseen accidents, but that insurance does not extend to workers who might present at the compost site if the application had been approved.
Derksen said he was happy for an opportunity to hold a previous meeting with Taber Mayor Henk De Vlieger and Chief Administrative Officer Greg Birch, but that he was disappointed at the prospect of losing the land leased by his club.
“They said (the club’s) income is sort of irrelevant to the money the town will make (with the compost facility),” he said. The club has leased the land since 1982, and Derksen said there are as many as 10 years left on the current lease.
“They were the one’s who asked for a longer lease so we didn’t have to redo it every five years,” he said.
Should they desire to do so, Bio-Can would have 14 days from the date of notice (April 20) to appeal the decision.
Taber Mayor Henk De Vlieger did not respond to a request for comment.
(Editor’s note: In the April 22 print edition, we mistakenly reported that Daniel Derksen of the Taber Nighthawks RC Flying Club was disappointed by a meeting he attended with Mayor Henk De Vlieger and Taber CAO Greg Birch. In fact, Derksen clarified while the meeting itself was positive, he was disappointed at the prospect of losing the leased land to the compost project. The Times apologizes for the error.)