The City of Kamloops has submitted queries to the Ministry of Environment regarding the province’s proposed changes to the organic matter recycling regulation (OMRR), which governs the land application of biosolids.
Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday to approve staff’s comments in response to the government’s intentions paper regarding proposed changes to OMRR, which is open to pubic feedback until Nov. 8.
“At this point, staff aren’t seeing any unmanageable impacts to our current or future operations based on the proposed changes,” city utility services manager Greg Wightman told council.
These changes include transitioning from a notification process to an authorization registration process for the land application of biosolids and composting operations. More engagement with First Nations and other groups prior to a proponent submitting a proposal regulated by OMRR, and stronger requirements for sampling and increased technical standards are also proposed.
Questions from staff to the ministry surround gathering more clarifying information, such as what the specific requirements of “enhanced engagement” will be.
“Right now, it’s pretty vague on exactly what enhanced engagement will look like,” Wightman told council. “In particular, what that will mean with regards to First Nations.”
He said the city also wants to know if municipalities will be included in the list of agencies consulted prior to the submission of a biosolids land application, and what the dispute resolution process will be in the event certain groups cannot come to a consensus on approval.
“The intentions paper does mention engagement with First Nations, with regional districts [and] with health authorities, but it doesn’t talk about local government,” Wightman said. “Obviously, we want that ability to review these applications, so that’s one of the recommendations we’re putting forward.”
Wightman said the purpose of the intentions paper is to increase public engagement in the authorization process and the city’s comment to the ministry is to include local government in the process and to explain its dispute resolution process.
“If the City of Kamloops were to oppose a proposed biosolids land application within our boundaries, right now there’s no mention of how that would move forward,” Wightman told council.
“We’ll have to see what they come back with,” he added.
Biosolids are treated sewage sludge commonly used as fertilizer — a practise that has come under public scrutiny in the Kamloops area.
Complaints include the odour, a lack of transparency in the current application process and unknown impacts on the environment due to a myriad of chemicals that could be present following the composting process. Proponents of the practise maintain those chemical levels would be minimal.
The City of Kamloops currently has a request for proposal out to tender for the management of its stockpile and daily production of biosolids after a contract with former manager Sylvis expired in July.
This is the government’s second OMRR intentions paper, having been in circulation since 2016 collecting public feedback.
The updated regulation will apply to compost facilities and land application of organic matter and align with the agricultural waste control regulation and the contaminated sites regulation.