Malahat band ready to take Victoria area’s kitchen scraps

Creating opportunities for employment for members of Malahat’s First Nation is how the chief is looking at their recent offer to accept Victoria’s residential kitchen compost.

“We’re creating a space to see if there’s an opportunity for us and the regional district for a business partnership,” said Chief Michael Harry recently, following a move by the CRD to ship its scraps to a Lower Mainland facility until a more regional option can be sought.

Harry said he was set to sit down with CRD staff this week to discuss the opportunity.

“We have a fantastic location,” he said.

In the meantime, the Capital Regional District directors agreed to award a contract of up to $4.7 million to Emterra Environmental to haul food scraps to Richmond for processing between April 2014 and December 2015.

Staff will be preparing reports on interim and long-term, in-region options as soon as possible.

“The most likely place for a local processing facility is at Hartland Landfill, which already has the necessary zoning,” reported the Times Colonist following a recent CRD meeting. “However, directors did not want to close the door on other options such as shipping food scraps to Malahat First Nation land near Mill Bay for processing.

Malahat First Nation told the CRD in a letter it is ready to receive CRD kitchen scraps for the next 50 years. Harry said if the CRD bites on the offer, the band could have a suitable location set up within 60 days at the southwest corner of the Malahat reserve.

“Infrastructure build-up would be minimal, provided we have a green light,” said Harry.

Mill Bay Director Mike Walker hadn’t heard about the offer until he read about it in the Times Colonist.

“I stay pretty well on top of what they’re doing down there, and I haven’t heard any discussions or seen any major construction happening there,” Walker said.

“You need concrete pads, a composting area to have it drained, heaters, tents, enclosed buildings... That’s a major commitment for anyone to build.

“They have a two-year window, and that may give them the opportunity to put together a business plan to see if it’s even viable for them.”

Walker noted other options could be available to the CRD as well.

“There are other players on the island,” he said. “There’s the Bamberton properties. They have industrial land that’s zoned for composting. I’m sure they’ll be keeping an eye out on that.

“In the Comox Valley, they’re looking at creating a landfill there, so there are some options out there.”

Harry said he hasn’t heard or received any concerns or complaints about the Malahat offer.

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