Contentious composting facility gets second public hearing

A proposed new composting facility will come up for discussion among the RDEK board of directors for a second time at their next meeting

A proposed new composting facility will come up for discussion among the Regional District ofEast Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors for a second time at their next meeting.

A second public hearing about the facility, which has been proposed by Earthrite Industries Ltd.and would just outside Cranbrook, was held on Wednesday, February 22nd, and a report will appear before the directors during their March meeting. Although the facility is in the Cranbrook area, it could possibly have indirect effects here in the Upper Columbia Valley.

“We’ve talked about doing more waste diversion and composting at the Windermere landfill, and this could be one model,” Invermere mayor and RDEK director Gerry Taft told The Valley Echo,speaking the morning prior to the second public hearing.

Taft touched on the trial composting project that the local Groundswell Network Society successfully ran at the Windermere landfill over last summer.

“But in order to scale that up, there is the potential that a regional facility (such as the Earthrite facility) could be more cost-effective. It could be public or it could be private, but in general, we need more composting and we need more waste diversion,” he said.

As an RDEK director, Taft is not allowed to speak about the second public hearing until RDEK staff present the report based on it, but he was able to say that the issue had been contentious in the first public hearing, that new information had come up after the first public hearing, and that RDEK directors had sent Earthrite back to the drawing board to come forward with another proposal.

Earthrite owner Kris Pickering, however, is not obligated to keep quiet until the RDEK report is released, and told The Echo on Thursday, January 23rd that the second hearing “went well. The first public hearing, there were a lot of people opposed to us. This hearing was mixed about half were in favour, and half were opposed. Most people, even those opposed to our proposal,seem to be in favour of composting; they just don’t want a composting facility anywhere near their backyard.”

The proposed Earthrite composting facility would be located in an area called Mayook, 16kilometres east of Cranbrook, in an area that Pickering described as being mostly industrial and agricultural with a few residences mixed in, and would be capable of taking in 10,000 to 18,000tons of organic waste and turning that into about 4,800 tons of fresh compost each year.

“We had an environmental assessment done (prior to the second hearing), which concluded thatthere would be minimal to no impact on wildlife, humans, or water quality those were the three big concerns our opponents cited, so we feel the environmental assessment is a big green light forus,” said Pickering.

To learn more about the proposed facility, see Eathrite’s website at