Ladysmith resident Hillary Eveno at the Public Works Yard on Wednesday.

Ladysmith resident Hillary Eveno at the Public Works Yard on Wednesday.

Ladysmith buys new site to build biosolids composting facility

The Town of Ladysmith has bought a property on Thicke Road in the south end of town where it intends to build a new compositing facility.

The Town of Ladysmith has bought a property on Thicke Road in the south end of town where it intends to build a new compositing facility.

“We are pleased that our lengthy search for a suitable property to house our bio-solids composting facility has finally been successful,” said Mayor Aaron Stone on Friday afternoon.

The 2.24 acre site at 4142 Thicke Road is in an industrial zoned area and sold to another buyer in October above the previous asking price of $615,000.

It’s unclear how much the town paid for the plot of land, which has a 4,924 sq ft warehouse on the property.

Despite securing a new site, composting operations will continue at the facility on Sixth Avenue in the immediate future while the town attempts strike a deal for its Class B material.

“Our main focus continues to be finding an interim partner to process our bio-solids until we can move the entire operation away from our public works yard and neighbouring residential areas,” Stone said.

Tensions boiled over on Wednesday as upwards of 30 residents met face-to-face with town officials, including Mayor Stone, at the front gate of the public works facility on Sixth Avenue.

Resident Amanda Schomer told the Chronicle the smell has made it difficult to enjoy being in her own home.

“Right before supper it gets so bad that the inside of our house smells like an outhouse,” she said.

“Even with the windows closed it still seeps in.”

Each week, two bins ranging in size of 15 to 30 cubic metres, amounting to 2,500 tonnes annually, are dumped in piles outside at the site.

The result is top soil that is used in gardens and other areas around Ladysmith.

The Town said it will continue to try and mitigate the smell, including doing the majority of the work during the evening.

Officials have been urgently looking for other partners that can take the material in the interim.

Negotiations with three or four are quite close and a deal could be inked as early as next week.

The public works yard has been compositing bio-solids since the 1990s, but shipments of Class B material from the wastewater plant doubled earlier this year when the town switched to secondary sewage treatment.

Ladysmith has previously received $570,000 through the federal Gas Tax Fund to help with costs of building a new facility.

City council voted last summer to delay construction until the composting operation could be moved to a more suitable location.

The new compositing site will have a covered enclosure for the compost piles as well as bio-filters to mitigate odour.

“The smell will be completely controlled and fully minimized,” said city manager Guillermo Ferrero

Ladysmith has also already applied to have the federal grant transferred to the new location.

“We’re going to move as fast as possible,” Ferrero said, noting there are conditions of the sale that are still pending.

“Hopefully we’ll get the possession for the property right away and in the mean time we’re going to get the design and everything moving forward.”

A search for a new site has been ongoing months but led to difficulties due to suitable locating and zoning.

“The whole situation has been extremely difficult for our community and for our council,” Stone said.

“As we better understood that the public works yard would no longer be a suitable location for the composting operation, we started looking for a new site or other places to take the Town’s bio-solids.  We are happy to have secured a new location. Our teams are still urgently focused on efforts to find an interim partner to take our bio-solids until our new facility is operational.”