2016 News and Information

Update on Organic Odour Issues in Richmond (2017)

The City has and continues to take decisive actions to ensure Harvest Power eliminates odours from their facility. As of January 9, the City issued the following update on its actions regarding this issue. First, for context, the Harvest Power facility is located on federal lands and is regulated by Metro Vancouver for air quality, as delegated by the Province per the Environmental Management Act. In an effort to deliver relief to citizens in the short term however, the City continues to take action in every area it can to resolve the issue.

  • Effective January 3, 2017, the City began diverting multi-family waste sent to Harvest Power to an alternative licensed facility. At the City’s urging, green waste from Vancouver and the North Shore are also being diverted to an alternative licensed facility. The City of Surrey will also begin diverting its green waste starting in the spring of this year with the completion of their new green waste facility. The above diversions mean that the facility will be receiving almost half of the material it received in 2016.
  • The City has already requested that Harvest Power take steps to remedy odours from the facility within 90 days, per its Service Agreement with the company. As such, the City is undertaking an independent best practice review to determine industry standards and identify practices that might prevent the odour issues. Metro Vancouver is undertaking a similar analysis from the perspective of a regulator. Finally, the City is also reviewing recent reports issued by the company as part of a process to ensure overall Service Agreement compliance.
  • Responding to the City’s request, Richmond’s Medical Health Officer, Dr. Dawar, and Vancouver Coastal Health’s Environmental Health Officer, Dr. Lu, presented the findings of their health impact analysis to Richmond City Council on Dec. 12, 2016. Richmond Councillors had many questions for the delegates. The public can view the discussion online and read the discussion minutes.
  • At the City’s urging, Metro Vancouver is maintaining a higher level of oversight of the facility and is undertaking field testing with staff to enforce conditions in the permit that took effect on January 1, 2017. 
  • The City had requested that Metro Vancouver also improve their transparency regarding complaints and violations. On December 1, 2016, Metro Vancouver launched a comprehensive webpage detailing complaints, including emissions reports, maps for where complaints come from and details on permit violations.
  • Regarding recent fires, Richmond Fire-Rescue (RFR) has not been required to respond to any fire incidents since mid-November to Harvest Power. RFR continues to visit the site regularly to ensure recent pile height and spacing reduction remain in compliance with the BC Fire Code requirements and the Fire Safety and Fire plan submitted to the City.
  • At the City’s urging, Harvest Power held a second public meeting on December 8, 2016 to hear from the community. Over 90 residents attended to express their ongoing concerns.
  • On January 9, Council also voted to send a letter to Port Metro Vancouver requesting that they enforce any restrictive terms of their lease with Harvest Power relating to odours and emissions.
  • Finally, the City remains an active participant in the appeal process which recently started.

Additional background information is included in the attached PDF Document Memo to City Council.

A previous PDF Document Memo to City Council provided information on City actions as of November 25.

The City believes these actions work towards a long term solution to the odour issues while bringing short term relief. City Council and staff remain focused on results and will continue to update the community with new information through media and on this website.

Metro Vancouver - File an air quality complaint
Metro Vancouver is responsible for regulating air quality within the region, a role delegated by the province of BC. They also have the responsibility to receive complaints. If you have detected odours in your home or neighbourhood and suspect it is from the Harvest Power organics facility in Richmond, it is important you file your complaint with Metro Vancouver - high quality complaints from citizens will support further investigation and enforcement. As well, report your complaints to Harvest Power. Please be sure to note where and when you smelled the odours and also try to describe them.

Concerned residents are encouraged to file a complaint about odour, dust or other air contaminants with Metro Vancouver, as they are the jurisdiction which regulates air quality. Through utility rates, member municipalities pay Metro Vancouver for this level of service, so it is important to bear this responsibility in mind given the matter of the current Harvest Power odours in Richmond.

Metro Vancouver
Metro Vancouver has indicated that the most beneficial complaints are timely, identify the date/time and location of the odour, and describe the odour, its intensity, and its impact. Tips on making a good complaint can be found here.

To file a complaint with Metro Vancouver, you can:

As Metro Vancouver also has a contract with Harvest Power for composting of organics waste, it can engage Harvest Power to immediately address the odour issue. Residents are encouraged to write to Metro Vancouver to urge them to take action on this issue.

See more information regarding the total amount of complaints received by Metro Vancouver; the general location of complaints received to date; enforcement actions and reports related to Harvest Power by visiting their dedicated complaints and enforcement webpage.

Harvest Power - Engage directly with them
Harvest Power has created a dedicated website for their Air Quality Permit to update the public on its activities. You can also call Harvest Power at 604-836-8387.

Harvest has also established a Community Liaison Committee whose purposes include hearing community concerns and sharing information about Harvest's operations and plans. The last meeting was held Thursday, December 8, 2016 (7:00 - 9:30 p.m.)

Ministry of Environment
The Province has delegated authority to Metro Vancouver to regulate air quality. Share your concerns with the Minister responsible, Mary Polak, at env.minister@gov.bc.ca or your local member of the legislative assembly (MLA).

The City of Richmond has been active
The City of Richmond has been very active working to eliminate odour issues from Harvest Power's operations - despite not having regulatory control over air quality issues in the region. Below are links to news releases and reports:

News Releases

2016-Nov-15 Richmond seeks to join in appeals of Harvest Power's air quality permit
2016-Nov-11 Metro Vancouver must address odour problem
2016-Oct-25 Richmond Council demands end to organics odour problem

Actions Endorsed by City Council

Date Link to Report via Meeting Minutes Meeting and Agenda Item #
 2016-Nov-14 Harvest Power Permit Update  City Council Meeting

Agenda item 19
2016-Oct-17 Harvest Power Air Quality Permit Review General Purposes Committee

Agenda item 2 / GP-19
2016-Sep-19 Harvest Power Draft Air Quality Permit Update General Purposes Committee

Agenda item 3 / GP-117
2016-Jul-11 Odour Management from Organic Recycling Facilities Update City Council Meeting

Agenda item 11 / CNCL-112
2015-Dec-07 Harvest Power Air Quality Permit Review General Purposes Committee

Agenda item 3 / GP-16
2015-Nov-9 Odour Management from Organic Waste Management Facilities in Richmond and Surrounding Areas City Council Meeting

Agenda item 12 / CNCL-126Harvest Power's Air Quality website