City looking into building compost facility

The city will apply for full capital funding for a regional organics facility at the Norm Wood Environmental Centre

The city will apply for a multi-million grant to establish an organic compost facility.

Council endorsed the application to the federal Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund at its Monday night meeting. Councillors Charlie Cornfield and Larry Samson were opposed.

Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s manager of long range planning and sustainability, said the city will apply for full capital funding for a regional organics facility at the Norm Wood Environmental Centre that would process household, commercial and institutional organics and yard waste.

“The total capital request would be $4.6 million, plus additional funding required for site upgrades such as road improvements and fencing of Norm Wood,” Zirnhelt said. “This would enable the city to build a facility capable of processing 10,000 tonnes per year of source separated organics, and sized to allow future inclusion of up to 450 dry tonnes per year of biosolids.”

But Coun. Cornfield said he didn’t think it was the city’s place to operate such a facility and that it would be better left up to the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste service.

“I believe with an organics facility, it’s a function of the solid waste, they’re mandated to do that,” Cornfield said.

“So I don’t support us going off into an area that’s their responsibility.”

Coun. Samson was concerned that going forward with the organics facility right now would jeopardize the city’s efforts to look into an Island-wide solid waste function.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, said he didn’t believe that would be a concern.

“I don’t think it compromises that position at all,” Neufeld said. “The facilities we have been considering are all scaled and could be sized to meet the needs of either the city or the Comox Valley Regional District.”

City of Campbell River staff signed a memorandum of understanding with Comox Valley Regional District staff in July, 2013 regarding collaboration around organics diversion.

The city issued a Request for Proposals following the signing that will allow the facility to not only deal with organic and yard waste but also accept and process dewatered biosolids from the Norm Wood Environmental Centre.

The city’s biosolids are currently digested at Norm Wood but if that practice continues, the biosolid treatment plant will need to be expanded long-term.

Zirnhelt said if the Ministry of Environment rules that those biosolids can instead be composted and the digester is no longer needed, the city may be able to save up to $3 million by not having to invest in a new digester.

There could also be a savings in user fees for taxpayers.

Zirnhelt said if the city is able to secure 100 per cent capital funding from the Strategic Priorities Fund, combined with the annual funding Campbell River receives from Multi-Material BC, the city could not only offer curbside organic collection but also offer year round yard waste collection, which would result in a savings of $1.27 per household.

“So we’d be able to offer expanded services at a reduced cost,” Zirnhelt said.

The city has until April 15 to get its application in to the Strategic Priorities Fund.