North Cowichan appealed the government’s decision to issue a permit to Coast Environmental to increase its composting capacity at its Chemainus facility. (File photo)

Smells like no spirit of cooperation

Years of inaction leave Chemainus plant situation at square one

Hardly a day goes by without someone posting on Facebook or conversing with others about the stench emanating from Coast Environmental’s operations on the Trans Canada Highway.

Some days are worse than others depending where you live, but the problem certainly isn’t going away because nothing’s been done to solve it.

Newcomers to the area are astounded by the smell. Others who’ve been here a long time and know all too well about it try to educate the recent arrivals about what’s become an unfortunate Chemainus trademark.

If smells could be confined to the plant, it wouldn’t be an issue. But there are such things as air movement and that can make the odour travel just about anywhere.

It seems nobody studied any science to have this figured out before the business was allowed to set up in its present location. Long story short, the years continue to pass and there still doesn’t seem to be any solution in sight.

A Facebook post last week reinforced just how far we haven’t come over the years. It was a photo from 2011 showing a protest on the Trans Canada Highway involving upset business owners in the Chemainus Industrial Park and residents fed up about dealing with the horrendous smell on a regular basis.

That was eight years ago and we’re no further ahead.

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring’s quote from one of our newspaper articles will probably ring true for some time.

“It’s complicated, with the province responsible for issuing the licence to operate, the CVRD is in charge of regulations and North Cowichan is responsible for land-use issues,” he said.

Too many levels of government, all without the full-ranging power to take strong action. The Ministry of Environment, above the others, has to show some gumption and leadership in handling this.

And the ministry’s approval to increase the processing capacity at Coast certainly isn’t the answer. You’d think the Ministry of Environment would be especially diligent in this day and age of abundant environmental concerns affecting our planet, but apparently not.

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