Last fall, regional district director Arzeena Hamir gave school students a tour of Amara Farm, which she runs with her husband. Record file photo

Comox-Strathcona Waste Management looking at how to spread its compost

Area B director thinks staff, board members should take a closer look at pilot project

One of the developments of the pandemic has been a growing interest in gardening. Not surprisingly, that means people need compost.

Meanwhile, Comox-Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM) has been producing compost material from its pilot project for several years.

The board for CSWM, which manages the waste stream programs for the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts, is scheduled to meet Sept. 10. At the last meeting in June before the summer break, one of the items on the agenda was a direction to staff to bring back a report on pricing evaluation and other factors concerning the finished material from the compost pilot project.

The program has been running the pilot since the summer of 2013. Through it, CSWM processes the co-mingled food and yard waste from the Town of Comox and the Village of Cumberland. The resulting compost is typically made available to member municipalities free of charge, to the public for $13 per cubic metre or as cover material for the closure of the old landfill cell at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre.

This latest move to look at how the material can be used more effectively resulted from a letter from Arzeena Hamir, Area B director for the CVRD and co-chair for the CSWM board. In June, she wrote her CSWM colleagues about looking for ways to better use the material.

While the region will be opening an organic composting facility in 2022, in the meantime, Hamir said there is still enough time and enough material being produced to look for ways to improve the pilot project.

“In anticipation of this program, the pilot project’s finished compost material has not been widely communicated or marketed to the public with even some holdback of material for municipal use,” she wrote.

RELATED STORY: Three proponents submit for Comox-Strathcona organics facility

As well, Hamir noted that much of the compost is being used for flower beds, shrubs and trees. Her hope is to price the material in a way to reflect its value and that it can be directed toward “its highest and best use” in food production in communities throughout the region. She also pointed out at the meeting in June the current price at which they sell the program’s compost is below the market rate.

RELATED STORY: Many more people taking up vegetable gardening in Comox Valley

She also said she has received positive feedback from constituents who have purchased the material and who have told her that finding good quality compost can be challenging.

“With the ongoing pandemic driving tremendous interest back into food security and vegetable gardening, this material is a very valuable product that can support our community during this difficult time by helping to address food insecurity, poverty and community health,” she wrote.

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