The Thompson-Nicola Regional District is currently in the process of reviewing its Zoning Bylaw to regulate commercial composting and to limit the scale of agricultural composting. The amending bylaw, if supported by the TNRD Board, will limit the sale or export of agricultural compost, such as processed manure, food waste, or biosolids, from an agricultural operation.
In 2012, and later in 2014 when it was amended, changes to Bylaw 2400 did not restrict composting activities. The new amending bylaw is being prepared in response to Board direction to consider how and if the TNRD can lawfully regulate biosolids. The issue was brought to the Board as a result of the controversy surrounding the BioCentral composting facility in the Nicola Valley, which has recently been the focus of protests from area residents objecting to the importation of biosolids due to the impact on their way of life.
At the April 23 Board of Directors meeting it was decided to proceed with an amending bylaw, Bylaw 2516, that will prohibit composting on a scale beyond what can be spread on the given ranch or farm. The proposed changes go as far as the local government can in respect to compost regulation. The TNRD cannot license, manage, or issue permits for farm operations, including composting, however the TNRD can prohibit the commercial sale and export of compost produced on the farm. Local government does not receive notifications regarding composting and biosolids applications.
It is expected that the amending bylaw will be forwarded to the Board of Directors for first and second readings and then proceed to a public hearing. A consultation process is already under way with TNRD member municipalities, First Nations, the Agricultural Land Commission and various provincial ministries.
The Board of Directors also sent a resolution, crafted jointly with the City of Merritt, to the recently completed Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) Convention. The resolution requests the province establish a committee to examine and recommend changes to the biosolids review process as well as changes to the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation and Agricultural Land Commission Act. This was passed unanimously and it will now be on the agenda of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) in the fall.
Biosolids and B.C. Law
B.C. local government cannot prohibit farmers from importing organics such as biosolids or other organic wastes for composting and land application on their lands; therefore the TNRD’s proposed bylaw will only deal with the exporting or commercial sales of compost that is processed or produced on a farm.