A company the City of Regina hired to handle its compost is facing strong opposition to setting up a processing facility east of the city.
EverGen Infrastructure Corporation, a company based in B.C., filed a discretionary use application to the Rural Municipality of Edenwold No.158 seeking to operate a commercial compost facility to process organic waste.
Residents and some local politicians, however, have raised multiple objections to the proposed location and want the facility installed at a more remote location in the rural municipality.
"We're remaining hopeful, frankly, that [EverGen] will honour the obligation they met, while also being practical that [the proposal] is causing some public outcry there and that, frankly, [the RM council] could overturn the permit," Regina city manager Niki Anderson recently told reporters.
The City of Regina distributed green bins to many residences this month, as its curbside organic waste pickup program is slated to begin in less than two weeks.
The program has been years in the making and aligns with the city's energy and sustainability framework, which lists actions the city can take to become net zero by 2050.
EverGen was hired to handle the waste. To the rural municipality, it proposed to create compost for distribution and sale on land along Range Road 2185, north of Highway 46. The location is just outside Pilot Butte, Sask., a town about 15 kilometres east of Regina.
"It's not sitting in an industrial, or those types of zoning. It's actually on our doorstep," said Pilot Butte Mayor Peggy Chorney.
The RM of Edenwold No.158 hosted a town hall meeting Tuesday to discuss the matter.
Several dozen residents spoke during the meeting — or wrote to the RM council — airing various concerns, such as the smell that may come from the facility and potential impacts on the environment and aquifer.
Residents of Pilot Butte, Sask., are concerned that a compost facility operating just outside the town limits could harm the aquifer, among other things. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)
Chorney was one of the delegates. During her speech, she acknowledged the tight relationship between her town and the rural municipality, but warned the RM council that approving the proposed location could cause "irreparable harm" between the two communities.
The town is not against composting at all, she told CBC News, but they don't want the processing facility to be in its backyard.
EverGen president Mischa Zajtmann attended Tuesday's town hall meeting, during which he offered assurances that the public's concerns are being taken seriously.
"We're going to stand behind this facility," Zajtmann said Tuesday. "We're going to inject the capital this facility needs in order to ensure it's fully compliant, that there's no risk to water contamination, that there are no odour issues."
The RM council must weigh the public submissions before voting on the proposal.
Mischa Zajtmann, president of EverGen Infrastructure Corp., attended a town hall meeting hosted by the Rural Municipality of Edenwold No. 158. The company is seeking to set up a compost facility in the area. (RM of Edenwold/Facebook)
Meanwhile, the City of Regina does not yet have an alternate location for a compost facility, Anderson said.
If EverGen's proposal is denied, the city could store organic waste temporarily at its existing site, then transport the waste once another site is secured for the compost facility, she said.
The city is looking at its options in case the proposal is denied, Regina Mayor Sandra Masters told reporters, but the obligation is on EverGen to secure the location for its operations.