Composting plant put on hold

Glen Valley facility cannot proceed without permission of Agricultural Land Commission

A controversial composting facility planned for 25330 88 Ave. in Fort Langley is on hold.

Glenval Organics, the owner of the site, has been told it cannot proceed without the permission of the provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

In a June 4 letter provided to The Times, ALC executive director Brian Underhill says the commission “has concluded the proposed facility would not be in compliance with the Agricultural Land Reserve Use, Subdivision and Procedure Regulation…”

The ALC based its decision on its review of information provided by Glenval at the commission’s request.

“The information submitted makes no reference to a farm operation on the subject property and as such this facility would be considered a non-farm use,” the Underhill letter states.

“Because you have made a non-farm use application to the Township of Langley and the Township resolved not to forward the application to the ALC for a decision, you do not have approval to proceed with this land use in the Agricultural Land Reserve.”

The ruling is a setback for Glenval, which received approval from Metro Vancouver three months earlier.

The regional authority issued a solid waste licence to Glenval Organics on April 9 that limited processing to yard waste and wood chips and excluded smellier food waste.

Glenval has maintained it could operate the composting facility without ALC approval under Agricultural Act provisions that would restrict the plant to selling half of the compost it makes while keeping the rest on the site.

Now that the commission has decided differently, Glenval Organics CEO Gary Nickel said the company may seek a court ruling on the matter.

“We’re looking at all of our options right now,” Nickel told The Times.

Nickel said he knows of at least two other Langley farmers  operating identical composting operations.

“They do exactly what we do, but they have no permit [from Metro Vancouver],” Nickel said.

He estimates the two-year fight to build the compost plant has cost his company “north of $200,000.”

The proposal generated a storm of criticism, with opponents dominating public hearings.

Many speakers told representatives of Glenval Organics and Metro Vancouver that they are against the plant because they are worried about the effect it will have on their neighbourhood and their property values.

Langley Township council unanimously voted against the Glenval Organics project in February.

Because of the ALC ruling, the Metro Vancouver decision on a Glenval application for an air quality permit has been suspended.