Proposed crackdown on nuisance odour could hurt city’s image, staff warn

Bylaw could hurt small businesses as costs to install odour removing equipment are in the tens of thousands of dollars

City staff is recommending council approve a bylaw that would outlaw nuisance odours.

The regulations, if approved by city council, would ban every owner or operator of a commercial or industrial business from discharging or emitting a nuisance odour at a level two or greater, as determined by the city bylaw officer.

Under the bylaw, nuisance odour would include any odour in the air that is “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.”

The bylaw would not apply to permitted combustion such as wood stoves and vehicle emissions.

City Clerk Peter Wipper recommended at Monday’s council meeting that the bylaw be given first and second reading.

Council, however, decided to put off making a decision until its next meeting as three councillors were absent on Monday.

Wipper said that while there is merit to the bylaw, he at the same time cautioned council that if it does choose to approve the bylaw, it could wind up ultimately hurting the city.

“Adopting new odour regulations could impact the city’s business friendly image because the cost to install odour removing exhaust/filtration systems is in the range of tens of thousands of dollars,” Wipper said.

The proposed odour crackdown was prompted by a resident’s complaint in April concerning the deep fryer exhaust odours emanating from Dick’s Fish and Chips on the Island Highway.

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

Wipper said the owner of the restaurant regularly cleans the grease filters and has agreed to turn off the exhaust extractor fans between 10:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. during the summer and from 9:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. the rest of the year to address noise complaints.

As for the smell, Wipper said the city contacted the producer of the restaurant’s grease filters to learn what could be done to eliminate the odours.

“Quest provided an estimate of approximately $60,000 to install a charcoal/UV filtration system that would eliminate odours from Dick’s deep fryer,” Wipper said.

“In addition to installation costs, there would be annual operating costs to clean/replace filters in the amount of $10,000.”

Wipper said those kind of costs could make it challenging for a place like Dick’s to comply with the bylaw.

“It is not known if Dick’s (or any small restaurant) could afford those costs and still remain profitable,” Wipper said.

“The proposed odour regulations have the potential to financially impact a wide range of commercial and industrial operations and have the potential to scare off potential business investment.”

Wipper said the bylaw, if approved, could also open a Pandora’s box.

“If council were to adopt new odour regulations, then the city could expect to receive other similar complaints,” Wipper said.

“The smell from medicinal grow-ops, brew pubs and coffee roasting companies are well documented in other cities.”

The bylaw is expected to go back before council at its next meeting, which is Sept. 6, when it will once again be up for first and second reading.