WHEREAS rural municipalities recognize the benefit of well-managed compost facilities as a necessary and useful component of waste management; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta, through the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Waste Control Regulation, and Code of Practice for Compost Facilities, has the authority and responsibility to oversee compost facility activities; and
WHEREAS the current Code of Practice for Compost Facilities was adopted in 1997 with intended review every five years beginning in 2001; and
WHEREAS the Standards for Composting Facilities in Alberta were published in 2007; and
WHEREAS anecdotal evidence from Alberta Environment and Parks suggests that the Standards for Composting Facilities in Alberta was intended as an update to the current Code of Practice for Compost Facilities but did not receive the priority required to bring the update into force; and
WHEREAS the current Code of Practice for Compost Facilities is legally enforceable by Alberta Environment and Parks while the Standards for Composting Facilities in Alberta are not; and
WHEREAS the Standards for Composting Facilities in Alberta contain many requirements that exceed those in the Code of Practice for Compost Facilities; and
WHEREAS in some cases the requirements written in the Standards for Composting Facilities in Alberta would better address the concerns of rural municipalities and their residents related to off-site impacts of compost facilities; and
WHEREAS as more municipalities in Alberta are implementing an organic collection program, composting facilities will likely increase in number and be sited close to communities; and
WHEREAS updating the Code of Practice for Compost Facilities would be a proactive approach that would help municipalities with siting these operations and minimize their community impacts;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request the Government of Alberta to update the Code of Practice for Compost Facilities to reflect, at a minimum, the Standards for Composting Facilities in Alberta.
The jurisdiction to regulate compost facilities lies with Alberta Environment and Parks under the authority of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (Act), Waste Control Regulation (A.R. 192/1996) (Regulation), and Code of Practice for Compost Facilities (Code). The Government of Alberta also has a document titled Standards for Composting Facilities in Alberta (Standards) which is not legally enforceable as it is not tied to the Regulation or Act. In recent conversations with Alberta Environment and Parks it was determined that the Standards, published in 2007, were originally written with the intent of replacing the current Code. According to staff, the project lost priority at the time and was not pushed along the final steps necessary for the content of the Standards to become the new and enforceable Code. Through this resolution, Wheatland County wishes to highlight the importance of the work that was done to update the Code and return priority to the project so that it may be completed.
Our attention to compost facility regulation is drawn from a recent case of conflict between County residents and a compost facility within our municipality. In this case, the facility began operation in 1997, when it was determined that a development permit was not required due to the agricultural nature of the activity. Since then the facility has evolved, and in recent years resident complaints about intense odours, nuisances like flies, high seagull populations, and blowing garbage, and concerns about other potential issues like ground and surface water impacts, have become common. Because the facility has both Alberta Environment and Parks registration via the Code, and in-writing confirmation that they do not require a development permit, the municipality is very limited in its ability to act to alleviate the concerns of its residents and must rely on Alberta Environment and Parks’ ability to manage and monitor the impacts of the facility. While Alberta Environment and Parks is doing what they can according to the Code, we are disappointed that the content of the Standards cannot be enforced. Wheatland County believes that the additional requirements included in the Standards are an improvement that would increase our confidence in Alberta Environment and Parks’ ability to both resolve concerns in cases like this, and proactively prevent similar cases from occurring in the future.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Environment and Parks
The Government of Alberta is committed to protecting the environment and reducing the amount of waste, including compostable waste, sent to landfills. The Government of Alberta is continually looking for opportunities and innovations that will improve its composting efforts, so Alberta will continue to listen to stakeholders and study best practices to ensure we are creating a solution that benefits all Albertans.
Alberta Environment and Parks understands that composting and waste reduction is an important issue, and the province is committed to working with municipalities to resolve issues surrounding composting and compost facilities. The province will continue to manage and monitor composting facilities across Alberta, as outlined under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
RMA appreciates the commitment from Alberta Environment and Parks to work with municipalities to resolve issues surrounding composting and compost facilities. However, the resolution requests the Government of Alberta to update the Code of Practice for Compost Facilities to reflect, at minimum, the Standards for Composting Facilities in Alberta.
RMA assigns this resolution a status of Intent Not Met, and RMA will continue to work with the Government of Alberta to fulfill the intent of this resolution.