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City cracks down on offensive smells

Nuisance odours courtesy of local restaurants, or any other business, will no longer be tolerated within the city limits.

Council, at its Monday meeting, outlawed commercial and industrial business owners from discharging or emitting offensive odours, as determined by a city bylaw officer.

The ban comes by way of an amendment to the city’s public nuisance bylaw and is intended to crack down on offensive smells.

Under the bylaw, unlawful odours are defined as those which are “harmful, poisonous, disgusting, repulsive, very unpleasant, offensive, or interferes with the use or enjoyment of property, endangers personal health or safety, or is offensive to the senses and causes inconvenience or annoyance to a person with a normal sense of smell.”

City Clerk Peter Wipper said any business owner found in contravention of the bylaw will be required to hire an independent consultant to assess and recommend odour abatement measures.

“This was done because city staff do not have the technical knowledge required to make recommendations that will ultimately impact the business owner,” Wipper said. “If this clause was not included in the regulations, then city taxpayers would be required to pay the costs of hiring an independent consultant to assess and recommend odour abatement measures for a private business.”

The bylaw stipulates that businesses found to be responsible for emitting nuisance odours are subject to a $250 fine. Operations that fail to supply a report from an odour consultant and/or fail to provide a letter certifying implementation of the consultant’s odour abatement recommendations can face a $500 penalty.

The crackdown was prompted by a homeowner’s complaint to the city last April concerning deep fryer exhaust odours emanating from a restaurant on the Island Highway.

Wipper explained to council that fumes from the restaurant are vented through a flue at the back of the building that is similar in height to the complainant’s outdoor patio roughly 30 feet away.

Coun. Larry Samson said at the time that he could sympathize with the homeowners.

“It is our basic right to enjoy our home and home includes the yards and everything else,” Samson said, adding that the city needed to be more proactive in heading off conflict, particularly in light of the city’s push to bring residential homes into the downtown core. “As we develop downtown and we’re trying to bring in commercial, as well as residential, I think it’s important we have clear guidelines on the commercial component which is the restaurants; that they do have the onus on them to control the odour.”

While the bylaw will restrict most nuisance odours, it will not apply to permitted combustion such as wood stoves and vehicle emissions.

Mayor Andy Adams said in November, when council gave the bylaw amendment third reading, that it is “going to be a work in progress, but it’s a good first step.”

Campbell River now joins the likes of a handful of other Island communities such as Courtenay, Langford and Nanaimo in having odour regulations.

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