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Delta composting facility the centre of election controversy

Mayoral candidate George Harvie’s actions as city manager under scrutiny from two opposing slates
George Harvie announced his run for mayor at Tsawwassen Springs on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Tensions are mounting among some candidates in the upcoming civic election over the stench emanating from Ladner’s Enviro-Smart Organics composting facility.

Current councillor and Team Delta council candidate Robert Campbell is calling out former city manager and mayor-hopeful George Harvie about his actions back in 2013, when the facility was applying to increase the amount of compost it could take in.

According to correspondence from Metro Vancouver, brought forward to council in late August, “Delta staff strenuously objected to any requirement that Enviro-Smart obtain an air quality permit, and objected to any public consultation regarding Enviro-Smart’s applications to increase allowed tonnage under the solid waste licence.”

That Delta staff member was George Harvie, currently running for mayor under the Achieving for Delta banner. He has taken issue with the idea that he “strenuously objected” to the permit or public consultation.

However, a 2013 email from Metro Vancouver’s manager of environmental regulatory and enforcement services brought forward by Counc. Bruce McDonald (who is running for council on former Delta police chief Jim Cessford’s Independents Working for You slate) at Monday’s council meeting (Sept. 17) paints a different picture.

Manager Ray Rob, in his email to five senior Metro Vancouver officials, wrote that Harvie objected “to the notion of any public consultation regarding air permits or solid waste licences” and “appeared to say that I should just grant Enviro-Smart everything they want under the solid waste licence without any consultation and tell them that they didn’t need an air permit, or at least tell them that I would not enforce the need for an air permit.”

These comments prompted Counc. Campbell to file a freedom of information request with Metro Vancouver to learn more about this 2013 meeting.

“I am angered, puzzled and disappointed to learn — more than five years after the event — that Mr. Harvie strenuously opposed public consultation to discuss the Enviro-Smart composting operation in Ladner,” Campbell said in a Team Delta press release.

Following Campbell’s announcement, Harvie discussed the issue with the Delta Optimist in an article published online Sept. 14. (The Optimist has extensively covered issues surrounding the odour in Ladner since November 2017, when Enviro-Smart applied for an air quality permit to deal with the constant smell.)

In that interview, Harvie said he received direction from council to attend the meeting and express his opinion on the bylaw legislation. He also said that he did not stall any permits, and would not have had the authority to do so even if he wanted to.

Campbell claims that he could not find any direction from council for Harvie to express the opinions he did, and now is calling for Harvie to produce evidence of what direction he actually followed in regards to that meeting more than five years ago.

The North Delta Reporter has reached out to Harvie for comment, but he was not available for an interview before the Reporter’s print deadline. Members of his campaign forwarded an emailed response, as well as documents he provided to council on Aug. 27 about his 2013 meeting with Enviro-Smart.

In the email, Harvie said that “the allegations levelled against me by political opponents of duping council, or not keeping the public involved, are categorically untrue, which is supported by the public record.

“The meeting in question, which dates back five years, has never been brought forward as a concern until I announced my run for mayor.”

Campbell isn’t the only council candidate to question Delta staff’s role in the current stink being made by and about Enviro-Smart.

RELATED: Kanakos proposes whistle-blower policy for Delta staff

Current councillor Jeannie Kanakos, running for council with Independents Working for You, put forward the idea of a whistle-blower policy for Delta staff, largely because of the odour issue with Enviro-Smart Organics. During council meetings in late August, she brought up concerns with the way meetings were held during Enviro-Smart’s applications for increased capacity at its facility.

Harvie has also come up against McDonald, accusing him of “electioneering” in correspondence brought forward at the Aug. 27 council meeting following McDonald sharing his concerns about Harvie’s role in the Enviro-Smart debacle.

SEE ALSO: 43 candidates running in Delta civic election

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