Chemainus Odour - Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for a one-page printable version of these FAQs.

Background

The Municipality of North Cowichan has received complaints about odours from the industrial area in Chemainus, where Coast Environmental is located.

Coast Environmental is one of eight Waste Stream Management licenced facilities within the region and has the following operations on their property:

  • Waste Water Transfer Station
  • Soil Treatment Facility
  • Recycling Facility
  • Composting facility
  • Portable Toilet Cleaning & Storage

Who is responsible?

Multiple jurisdictions are responsible for issuing the licences for Coast Environmentals operations.

  • Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) issues the Recycler Licence

    • This means that the CVRD regulates municipal waste and recyclable items, including compost items, in accordance with its Solid Waste Management Plan and Bylaw No. 2570.  The CVRD oversees compliance for environmental irregularities such as dust, odour, vector, mud, litter control, and prevention.

  • Ministry of Environment (MOE) issues the permit to operate the contaminated soil facility in accordance with the Environmental Management Act.

  • Municipality of North Cowichan issues the annual business licence for Coast Environmental to conduct business on their property.

In addition, all facilities that process over 5,000 tonnes or more of compost per year are now required to obtain an Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMRR) permit from MOE. Coast Environmentals OMRR permit application is currently being reviewed by MOE. Questions or concerns regarding OMRR permits can be directed to the Province at: env.omrr.reg.reviews@gov.bc.ca

It stinks! Where do I send my complaint?

If you are experiencing an offensive odour, please fill out the CVRDs online Odour Nuisance Complaint Form. This is the only way to capture accurate odour data. It is compiled in one place and then analyzed to assist in determinng contributing factors such as intensity and length of odour, weather conditions and wind strength, which can then be shared with the facility, relevant agencies and local governments.

Why does the odour seem worse?

Residents and businesses are likely to notice odours more when they are outside (in the spring, summer, and fall months). 

With farms and rural properties nearby, it is also likely that not all odours reported are associated with Coast Environmentals operations. 

During the last three years, Coast Environmental has made a number of enhancements to their site to mitigate odours. The number of complaints per year have decreased significantly since 2014.

What is North Cowichan doing about the odour?

Coast Environmental is not in contravention of any North Cowichan bylaws for the municipality to enforce at this time. The CVRD oversees compliance for odour, and complaints can be submitted using the Odour Nuisance Complaint Form

That said, North Cowichan staff are committed to working diligently with the multiple jurisdictions involved to address residents concerns related to odours.