Area B resident raising a stink

Curtis Road resident does not want to tolerate another “smelly season” in her Area B neighbourhood

Jenny Steel’s patience is wearing thin.

The Curtis Road resident does not want to tolerate another “smelly season” in her Area B neighbourhood, which is near the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre.

In the fall of 2013, Steel requested action on behalf of about 22 homeowners affected by the smell, which is at its worst in summer.

The regional district sewage commission approved $50,000 in a four-year plan, which included an evaluation of odour control equipment and practices. The CVRD also planned to implement a tracking system to consistently address odour complaints.

But Steel has already had a whiff of the “chocolate factory” on Brent Road.

“Here we are 18 months later and we still haven’t got anything in,” she said. “What do you do?”

The sewage treatment plant treats wastewater from Courtenay and Comox. The district began to receive odour complaints shortly after the facility was built in 1984.

The following year, the Curtis Road residents committee filed legal action, which was resolved out-of-court in 1992. Along with compensating residents, the CVRD relocated the composting facility, and installed additional treatments to capture and treat the most odorous gases from equipment.

By 1997, a scrubber system had been installed for $2 million. In 2002, a new composting facility worth $5 million was constructed at the waste management centre.

Late last year, the CVRD hired RWDI Consulting for an assessment and evaluation of the odour control system at the CVWPCC. It’s now working on a questionnaire/survey that will be mailed to properties in the surrounding area. Once information is received, the consultant will complete a report along with recommendations. The process includes an open house with residents, expected by late-summer.

This does not sit well with Steel, who questions why a public meeting can’t be held immediately.

“I think we’ve got a really good case down here for a nuisance suit,” she said. “This is not supposed to happen.”

She notes the lack of area directors on the sewage commission, which is chaired by Courtenay director Manno Theos.

“All these processes take time,” Theos said. “The staff is mindful of the issue, and they’re working actively to resolve it. They want to do this right. They want to solve it to the best of their ability. Before you can do that, you want to find out what people in that area are thinking.

“Sometimes, when moving into an area, and you know there’s certain things in that area, you want to be quite aware of what’s around you,” Theos added. “If it’s there ahead of you, you want to be aware of that. If it comes there after you, I can see the difficulty with people.”