Jenny Steel, representing the Curtis Road Residents Association, addressed the Comox Valley Sewage Commission Tuesday. Scott Stanfield photo

Curtis Road residents fed up with stink

Eighty-some people comprising the Curtis Road Residents Association are tired of living in a smelly neighbourhood. They say they’ve lived with foul odours since the Comox Valley Water Pollution Control Centre (CVWPCC) was commissioned in 1984.

The group wants the regional district to address two problems: the need for bioreactor odour controls, and an Equalization Basin project planned for a buffer zone between properties and the plant.

“Science supports what we’ve been telling the region for years — the plant stinks,” association member Jenny Steel said in a Tuesday presentation to the Comox Valley Sewage Commission. “The remedy we seek is to install the bioreactor controls as a priority. The odour needs to be controlled at its source.”

Since new odour controls were installed around Sept. 1, a particularly vigilant property owner reported a stench 54 times.

According to the association, studies show that bioreactor odour controls can be installed for about $3 million.

The district says the EQ Basin Project is required to manage increased flows through the facility during severe storms and high tides. Steel suggests finding another location.

“Our visual barrier has been destroyed,” Steel said. “Previous commitments made to maintain a buffer zone have been thrown out the window. The plant and stack loom large, changing the whole feeling of our neighbourhood. We’re upset about the economic harm now that our property values are subject to. This is patently unfair and not acceptable.”

Water source contamination is another concern.

The group is asking the commission to:

•Locate the basin elsewhere within the 35-acre site;

•Re-assess the immediate need for the EQ basin;

•Consider retiring the tall stack;

•Plant fast-growing trees such as aspen or poplars along the fence line to screen buildings and processes from properties;

•Enter into a Host Community Benefit Agreement with residents to compensate homeowners, pending restoration of the visual screen.

“You moved the burden of odour control to our shoulders,” Steel said. “We pay through a decreased quality of life, reduced property values and reduced rents. It’s long past due for you and your constituents to step up to the plate and fix the problems now, and commit to not causing problems in the future.”

The association asked the commission to draft a plan to address their issues by May 16.

The commission voted to have a staff report completed within a month.

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