VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – If you’ve ever smelled the less-than-pleasant odour from a rendering plant, you can understand how people living nearby might complain.
Now Metro Vancouver, which is in charge of our local air quality, is looking at a bylaw to try to cut down the smell after a raft of complaints about a plant in East Vancouver over the weekend.

Metro’s Environmental Regulation and Enforcement Division manager Ray Robb says this weekend alone, there were over 50 complaints about West Coast Reduction‘s plant on Commercial Drive near Hastings.

“People report being woken up in the middle of the night by odours, having to close their windows to be able to sleep and [on] hot nights that’s not always preferable,” he says.  “They also complain of not being able to plan events for fear of being humiliated by odours.”

“The smells that the community experience are mostly from scrubbers and one of the problems is scrubbers are cool,” Robb explains.  “The air coming out of a scrubber is cool and will not rise.  So one of the things we’d like to see West Coast Reduction do is heat up those emissions so they don’t just fall onto the community, they actually rise and disperse.”

Robb says the proposed bylaw would allow Metro to recover its costs for dealing with high-risk sites.

“Because right now, those high-risk sites are dealt with through permits, but we do not recover Metro Vancouver’s costs from the facilities that are discharging odourous substances. Rather it’s the taxpayers that pay for it,” Robb says.  “So what we’re proposing to do is that those high-risk sources like the rendering plant in East Van and a composting facility or two around the region would have to pay based upon their potential for impact.”

He says it would also permit low-risk emissions and impose precautionary requirements for moderate-risk facilities, like an odour management plan.

Robb says it’s unusual for Metro to get as many complaints about West Coast Reduction on a weekend, noting they normally receive a few hundred complaints a year.  

“Apparently they may have had some product stored a little too long and went a little off.”

Robb argues the company has dramatically reduced the odours from its plant over the years but the expectations living in the neighbourhood have changed.

He adds Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre, which composts local food waste, is another source of odour, but Metro is working with them.

He says they hope to begin public consultation on the proposed bylaw in the fall and present it to Metro politicians in early in the spring.

Kevin Coles lives on Eton Street and Nanaimo, a few blocks from the rendering plant, and says it seems the stench from the plant is as bad as anyone can remember.

“Driving home, anywhere near about a five to ten-block radius of that plant, the stench [is] palpable, it’s pretty gross,” Coles says, noting the smell seems to be worse with the hotter summer weather.

“You have to respect the fact that if a plant’s been here for a long enough time, but it’s a residential area,” he stresses. “Plus…at some point, East Vancouver, with the way that the city’s moved, was an industrial area, so you almost want to respect that.”