A June 2018 photo of one of two storage facilities holding manure at an Abbotsford property currently under the microscope of regulators for alleged non-compliance issues. B.C. Ministry of Environment photo

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Abbotsford parent OK with manure facility near school getting permit

Shannon Gaudette says permitting the currently illegal operation would mean tight regulations

An Abbotsford parent whose child attends a school plagued by an “overwhelming” smell from across the road says she would be content to see the offending property get a permit to continue its manure work.

That’s because holding a permit to continue its work would mean tight regulations on how the work is conducted, said Shannon Gaudette, whose children attend King Traditional Elementary School in southwest rural Abbotsford.

Across Bradner Road from the school, an illegal manure storage and resale facility has been operating without a permit to do so since spring 2017. The operation is run by Armstrong-based business 93 Land Company Ltd., which was incorporated in February 2017, according to public records online.

RELATED: Manure company causing ‘toxic’ stink at Abbotsford school seeks permit

RELATED: Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

The smell emanating from the operation had been the subject of 15 WorkSafeBC claims as of November, causing nausea and headaches, among other symptoms.

The Ministry of Environment confirmed to The News earlier this week that the owner of the property was seeking a waste discharge permit, which would allow the business to continue operating.

After speaking with a site inspector late last year, Gaudette said the official gave her a bit of optimism with the prospect of the operation gaining official approval.

“He said [it] is really a good thing, because with that permit, they’re going to have to have proper storage, like a concrete floor, and proper ventilation systems put in. So that will force them to do that. They can’t do it half way. They have to fully commit to what the inspectors want,” Gaudette said.

She added that she hasn’t “been overwhelmed by the smell like we used to be overwhelmed” since late last year, which has been a literal breath of fresh air for her.

“But that doesn’t mean they’re doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Gaudette said there’s still frustration with the property.

The site inspector told her that most businesses, once they receive notices that they are in breaching of regulations, they cease operations until they’re compliant.

“Well, these guys haven’t done that,” Gaudette said. “It’s been such a long go with this whole thing. What I said to [the site inspector] was, ‘They’ve basically been giving you guys the middle finger for two years. They’re not doing anything that you’ve asked them to do multiple times.’ ”

The ministry is looking at enforcement options for the two years of breaching provincial regulations, which can include fines, and Gaudette said she “would love for them to get a really big fine.”

“I think what’s frustrating is the school was there, and the people that owned it before the 93 Land Company, there were no concerns until 93 Land Company took it over and started doing what they’re doing now,” Gaudette said.

But the matter of fines notwithstanding, Gaudette said she’s willing to let bygones be bygones, and won’t oppose the company getting a permit to operate.

“If they actually fall into compliance and they complete a permit and they do everything that they’re legally supposed to do on that property, I have no issue, really,” Gaudette said.

“For us, it’s more about just not having that horrible smell, with the kids and the teachers in that school.”

Find more of our coverage on the Abbotsford School District here.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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