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Editorial: Some things should be out of smelling distance

Some facilities are necessary to our lives, but, well, they stink

There are some things that should not be built anywhere near residential neighbourhoods.

Some facilities are necessary to our lives, but, well, they stink.

Some folks will remember from childhood driving with a parent out into the hinterlands somewhere to get to the local dump. The landfills of yesteryear, when we used to deal with our own garbage rather than ship it off the Island, are nothing like the transfer stations of today. As one approached one could see the circling birds waiting for the latest scrumptious tidbit and hear them calling.Most of all, one could smell the increasing stench that came part and parcel with such facilities as one got closer and closer.

While we no longer have garbage dumps in the Cowichan Valley, that doesn’t mean there aren’t odorous facilities that should not have been allowed to locate where they are.

Anyone who has ever been accosted by a terrible smell knows just how unpleasant it is. From a sewage treatment plant not working properly, as the people at Woodland Shores near Lake Cowichan are experiencing, to a recycling and composting facility in Cobble Hill that nearby residents have been complaining about for years, to similar longtime complaints about a compost facility in a Chemainus industrial park (though that issue has been quiet of late), many find that unpleasant odours can impact their quality of life. And there’s often not much that can be done about them on a local level.

Such facilities often get their permits to operate not at the local government level, but at the provincial level. These businesses are operating within their rights, and thus suggestions to shut them down are problematic. The best thing to do is to try to stop them before they open in an inappropriate area. Surely this is something that can addressed in zoning? It’s the best thing for our communities, and the best thing for the businesses themselves.

There is a caveat. We have little sympathy for people who build and move into an area knowing full well that a facility that produces odours is close by. Farms have been fighting such battles for years, when urban sprawl begins to nip at their borders and former city folk complain about the smell of the manure and the sound of the roosters crowing.

Much like the dump was located a good long drive from civilization, so should composting facilities and other businesses that are known to produce foul odours on an ongoing basis be where they will cause the least possible impact — well away from any neighbours.

Cowichan Valley Citizen