By Trevor Busch
The Town of Taber’s proposed compost site operator, Bio-Can, has declined to pursue an appeal of a recent decision made by the M.D. of Taber’s development authority denying use of a location adjacent to Taber’s waste transfer station.
Bio-Can had applied to develop a composting site at the Town of Taber’s regional waste management site northwest of the town boundary in the Municipal District of Taber. On April 20, the M.D. refused the development permit application.
“We’re not going to put in an appeal,” said Don Francis of Bio-Can. “There’s other options in the area that we’re going to direct our energies into, and we’re going to focus on that, and move forward in that direction. We want to focus our energies into other solutions, and move forward that way. We don’t want to be distracted by working on multiple fronts, we just want to focus on one.”
Bio-Can’s application was turned down by the M.D.’s Subdivision and Development Authority based on concerns regarding control and management of potential nuisance impacts, including odours and debris.
“I did an extensive tour of the Penhold site, and I’m amazed that was the reason they turned this request down, because that Penhold site is incredibly well run, with no odour whatsoever and no garbage outside of the fenced area,” said Coun. Joe Strojwas, speaking at the April 27 town council meeting. “This just blows me away that they would base their decision on those two items. This is a political decision — not anything else, in a nutshell.”
In relation to town council’s recent decision to implement a new solid waste initiative for the community involving a roll-out three cart system for garbage, recyclables and compost, the Town of Taber has a vested interest in seeing a compost facility move forward, which according to administration, could save the municipality over $200,000 annually and produce a revenue stream for the town that would help offset the need for further property tax increases.
“The M.D. has made this decision — for whatever reason — that’s their decision,” said Coun. Randy Sparks. “If Bio-Can decides to appeal, I think we support. But because of how important Bio-Can and composting is for the Town of Taber and the future of waste management, I think that we need to be supportive of Bio-Can, but also find another site. Find a site within the town limits that isn’t going to bother anybody with smell or any other concerns, and have a site ready in case Bio-Can decides not to appeal this. I think we need to have a site ready for future, because council passed a motion at our last meeting regarding waste management — this is vital to that. We need to be ready to carry on.”
Sparks went on suggest the M.D.’s Subdivision and Development Authority had based their decision on incorrect information about the nature of the site proposed for development in Taber.
“I have to concur with Councillor Joe (Strojwas). The reason — regardless of what the M.D. gave — obviously they were using the other Bio-Can site in Strathmore as the basis for their decision.”
Mayor Henk De Vlieger pushed for administration to analyze and select alternative locations for a compost site, as such a development would be integral to the roll-out cart-based solid waste initiative recently decided upon by town council.
“As you’re aware, a couple of meetings ago we made a motion for administration to look at other sites. I sure would encourage administration to keep going with that. This goes side by side, and time is of the essence. If we want to implement our new waste management system, this is a big part of it.”
In a surprising statement, De Vlieger appeared to blame society in general for the decision made by the M.D.’s development authority.
“I found it very sad that this decision was made by the M.D., especially after all the research that was done and the information that was given, it was very positive. We live in a society that seems like no matter what you do these days, people have to oppose it, or come up with so many things that can go wrong, that it’s almost become impossible to make decisions. It seems to be a trend, and it doesn’t matter how many good things you come up with, somehow you can always find a negative side to anything. The processes are becoming harder and harder to make decisions, especially on issues like this.”
Coun. Jack Brewin was also critical of the M.D. of Taber’s alleged “foot-dragging” on the issue.
“I’m very disappointed as to how they dragged their feet in giving us an answer on this.”
At their April 27 meeting, council had voted unanimously to agree to support an appeal by Bio-Can (should an appeal have been made) against the decision of the Municipal District of Taber’s Subdivision and Development Authority to refuse a development permit application for a composting facility at Taber’s regional waste management site.
According to administration, as an affected party, town council has a right of appeal regardless of Bio-Can’s interest. The Town of Taber has until today to file an appeal of the decision.
Should an appeal by the town be filed and later dismissed by the M.D. of Taber’s Subdivision and Development Authority Appeals Board, according to CAO Greg Birch the Town of Taber could choose to bring the matter to the Alberta Court of Appeal.