Investors shore up compost facility

NANAIMO – Duke Point composting site is in dire financial situation, says a group of investors looking to purchase the facility.

Nanaimo’s composting site is in a dire financial situation, says a group of investors looking to purchase the facility.

Dave Hammond, part of the prospective ownership group, told the Regional District of Nanaimo board at its Monday meeting that his group has advanced International Composting Corporation $150,000 in the past six weeks to cover operating costs, equipment repairs and the first steps of an odour management plan, including covers for external compost pipes.

The smell has long been a complaint of residents and the regional district asked that changes be made.

“Without this money, the plant would not have been able to receive and process the organic waste from the green bin program or commercial suppliers,” Hammond said. “The odour control plan has not moved forward simply due to a lack of money.”

Hammond said his group is looking to rework a deal with the regional district in order to complete the purchase of the Maughan Road composting facility and are seeking a five-year renewal term added to the current contract, which they asked to be increased by $300,000 per year while the group commits to completing the odour management plan by this spring.

“We are ready to invest in excess of $1 million in the plant, to complete the odour management plan, as agreed with the RDN, to complete the current maintenance and upgrades and to pay many of the outstanding local accounts payable,” said Hammond, adding that the group had the financing commitments for the money but it was conditional on an amended agreement with the regional district.

He said the group is required to personally guarantee financing and prepared to “shoulder the financial and operational risks” related to composting plant operation. The goal was to have an updated, odour-controlled efficient plant which can operate sustainably on a long-term basis.

The regional district board voted to have staff complete a report before committing. According to Dennis Trudeau, regional district general manager of solid waste, the report will be completed by the end of next week.

It will examine what works are being promised by the group, as well as proposed tipping fees and potential contract extension dates. He said the operation is feasible as the facility has been operating for eight years.

“A lot of successful operations, if they have one component that is not working, the whole thing can be seen as a failure,” Trudeau said.

The operation takes in food and wood waste and produces a compost product. Some odours from the site have been going past property boundaries, said Trudeau.

“It’s been successful but there’s just some additional odour controls that needs to be put in place and it can be seen as 100 per cent successful operation,” he said.

Bryan Imber, co-founder of the International Composting Corporation, was reached for comment but had not responded in time for press.

Hammond and the group have been shareholders in the corporation since its 2005 inception.

In the absence of the composting facility, compostable material would be shipped to the landfill.