Agricultural Rural Affairs Committee May 6th Councillor's Motion

Earlier this year, complaints came into my office from residents about a strong odor in the area of 8th Line and Marionville Road. In fact, it was so strong that they could not maintain an acceptable quality of life on their own properties.

After contacting the Ministry of Environment, an onsite meeting took place in March with multiple stakeholders and at that time it was learned that the product was a new form of biosolids. The product itself had been transported to a location that was not supported by the MOE and OMAFRA. 

At that point, it was determined that the product needed to move to a more open location away from residents’ homes and remain dry. If the product is left open to moisture, it will activate and cause a high odor and create hot spots for the potential of combustion of the material, which is apparently what happened in the case.

Based on the latest updates, it seems there has been significant progress in getting the company to proactively address the impacts to the community and MECP is working with stakeholders to bring about a positive resolution. However, MECP does not regulate the storage of these materials and would defer to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as well as the City of Ottawa to address this issue as well as any odor complaints.

Therefore, to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again in our Ward, and in rural Ottawa, I took the step of crafting and presenting the attached motion to ARAC this morning that directs the General Manager, Public Works & Environmental Services (or his designate) to write to the Ministers of OMECP, OMAFRA, as well as the CFIA, in consultation with rural Councillors, to outline key concerns and potential considerations from Ottawa’s perspective to help inform the development of the Best Management Practices aimed at pelletized biosolid producers and local farmers.

The motion was carried, which is an important first step in this process as all residents of the city deserve to live in an environment free of this type of stench.  Also, due to how modern the bio solid fertilizers are, it seems that city rules and processes need to be updated to alleviate future concerns, which this will help address.

Feel free to reach out to my office with any questions at George.Darouze@Ottawa.ca, and I’ll be happy to speak on the item further.

 

City Council, Standing Committee and Commission

Conseil, comités permanents et commission

 

Committee / Commission: Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee

Comité / Commission : Comité de l’agriculture et des affaires rurales

Item / Article:

Re :

Moved by / Motion de: Councillor Darouze

 

WHEREAS the City of Ottawa’s Biosolids Program was introduced in 1992, and is a critical step in Ottawa’s wastewater treatment process, consisting of secondary treatment and dewatering, followed by anaerobic digestion where solids are heated and broken down, producing methane for energy and creating reusable biosolids; and

WHEREAS the Biosolids Beneficial Use Program is a major advantage to agricultural land in Ottawa, and is considered the most sustainable way for the City to reuse waste as a local resource, offer cost savings and environmental benefits, and minimize the carbon footprint for a greener city; and

WHEREAS the biosolids program is a leader in biosolids management and follows several environmentally proactive policies and practices, optimizing the beneficial use of biosolids through local agricultural land application; and

WHEREAS the City of Ottawa Biosolids Beneficial Use Land Application Program is governed by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the Ontario Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (OMECP), the Environmental Protection Act and the Nutrient Management Act, as well as the City’s own policies and protocols; and

WHEREAS there has been a recent emergence of a new biosolids product offered by private sector companies - commonly known as pelletized biosolids - which differs from typical biosolids as they have been treated to further reduce pathogens through heat drying, while Ottawa's biosolids follow more strict provincial reuse and handling rules due to higher levels of bacteria, requiring additional care; and

WHEREAS the increased usage of these pelletized biosolids in recent years by local farmers has resulted in an increase in resident complaints relating to the associated odours; and

WHEREAS pelletized biosolids are classified as fertilizer products under the Canadian Fertilizers Act, regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA); and

WHEREAS the City of Ottawa does not have jurisdiction over the sale and use of commercial fertilizers by the public, nor to take action in response to odour complaints associated with the use of these private products; and

WHEREAS City staff continue to engage with the Province and the Water Environment Association’s Residuals and Biosolids Committee to collaborate with the industry, producers and farmers to follow best management practices on farms when using biosolid products to protect public health and the environment; and

WHEREAS it is Provincial jurisdiction to enforce and respond to odours reported as environmental spills on farms, coordinate site inspections, and provide communications to the public;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Ottawa City Council direct the General Manager, Public Works & Environmental Services (or his designate) to write to the Ministers of OMECP, OMAFRA, as well as the CFIA, in consultation with the Mayor and rural Councillors, to outline key concerns and potential considerations from Ottawa’s perspective to help inform the development of the Best Management Practices aimed at pelletized biosolid producers and local farmers.