October 1, 2018

Tag Team of Delta Mayor, Past City Manager Won’t Address Public on Big Stink

The optics are not good when a city manager retires from the City of Delta and then decides to run for mayor, with the current mayor, the long serving Lois Jackson teaming up with him for a supportive council seat. Sometimes when you eat, drink and spend a lot of time with the same people you forget about a more holistic approach.

That could include listening to and answering courteously to the  people who live in your community and that are impacted by your decisions, especially if it is constraining real estate sales and quality of life due to the stench of a growing composting facility on  protected farmland allowed under your leadership.

Recently retired City Manager George Harvie has taken an aggressive approach on the stench in his mayoral ambition, saying that his reputation has been questioned over suggestions he was behind the lack of  public consultation and the subsequent  horrendous odour that has been emanating from  the Enviro-smart Organics site, purchased in 2016 by GFL.

Price Tags Vancouver has been writing about the lack of public process for this odoriferous facility located at 4295 72nd Street in Delta. If you have driven on Highway 17 you’ve viewed and smelled this facility which unfortunately has also been built on prime farmland, when an industrial location could have been more appropriate.

It has come out (and you can read the document yourself here)  in a letter dated August 14, 2018 from Metro Vancouver’s chair, Greg Moore, that Metro Vancouver staff met with “representatives from Enviro-Smart regarding a requirement for an air quality permit. Senior Delta staff also attended that meeting. Metro Vancouver communicated that a public consultation process was also required as part of the licensing process. Delta staff strenuously objected to any requirement that Enviro-Smart obtain an air quality permit, and objected to any public consultation regarding Enviro-Smart’s applications to increase allowed tonnage under the solid waste licence. Delta Council did support several amendments to Enviro-Smart’s solid waste licence at that time to increase annual tonnage from 75,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes. “

The letter goes on to say that unlike every other composter and organics handling business in the region, only Enviro-Smart had failed to make an application for an Air Quality permit.

Subsequently, Metro Vancouver then clarified that George Harvie was the Delta representative at the meeting in March 2013 where the public process and permitting was discussed.

In a public meeting last week over the composting facility, outgoing Mayor Lois Jackson  (who is running in the election for a councillor seat on Mr. Harvie’s slate) refused to answer any questions related to how this facility was approved by her administration. As reported in the Delta Optimist  the current mayor threatened to shut down the meeting stating  “This is not a political meeting. If anyone wants to talk politics, go and take your councillors outside and whoever is running and talk about your politics. This is not a political rally.”

Citizens asked for a member of staff to chair the meeting instead of the Mayor, as they wanted to ask “questions about the timelines, service agreements and contracts, and how Enviro-Smart was seemingly allowed to operate without reproach.” 

But nope, citizens were only allowed to ask questions that the Mayor felt appropriate, and did not sully Mayoral candidate George Harvie, or current Mayor (and council candidate) Lois Jackson.

To make the whole thing even stranger, Mr. Harvie   came out with a statement from a consultant who was also at that meeting in March 2013 . While Metro Vancouver said Harvie was against a Metro Vancouver Air Quality permit and against a public process for the composting facility, this consultant says Harvie  was really against ANY attempt from Metro Vancouver to “regulate odours from agricultural operations in Delta”.

So there you have it. An operation that is not really agricultural is processing green waste from several municipalities on land that should be protected under the Agricultural Land Reserve. There appears to be no public process approved by Delta  for its installation, and while the current operator is now going through Metro Vancouver’s permit process, there is no explanation for how this facility was allowed on prime farmland and why the smell impacting residents has never been mitigated.

With no answers on the Big Stench forthcoming,  Delta residents on October 20 will determine whether they want four more years of the same old with the switcheroo of George Harvie running for mayor and  former Mayor Lois Jackson on council assisting Mr. Harvie.



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