• Don Dickson, Brenda Belak, Sheila Craigie and Blair Redlin v. District Director of the Greater Vancouver Regional District

    Decision Date:
    File Numbers:
    Decision Numbers:
    2007-EMA-008(b) 2008-EMA-004(b)
    Third Party:
    West Coast Reduction Ltd., Third Party


    Decision Date: March 8, 2010

    Panel: Alan Andison, Monica Danon-Schaffer, Robert Wickett

    Keywords:  Environmental Management Act – ss. 5, 31(1), 139(5); Air Quality Management Bylaw No. 937 – definition of ‘air contaminant’, ss. 3.1, 4.1, 4.4; permit; odour; jurisdiction; reasonableness

    Four people (the “Residents”) appealed two separate decisions amending an air emission permit held by West Coast Reduction Ltd. (“West Coast”), which operates a rendering plant in Vancouver, BC.  The amendments were issued by the District Director, Greater Vancouver Regional District (the “District Director”).  In both decisions, the District Director imposed requirements, conditions, criteria, standards, guidelines and objectives in relation to odour emissions from the plant.  The objective was to reduce the amount of odour emitted from the plant.  The 2008 amendments fully replaced, and were more stringent than, the 2007 amendments.

    The plant began operations in 1964, and has operated under an air emission permit since 1992.  Depending on the wind direction and weather, odours from the plant may travel to nearby residential areas.  Although West Coast made efforts over the years to reduce odour emissions from the plant, West Coast and the Greater Vancouver Regional District received many complaints about the odours.  Beginning in 2004, there was a significant increase in complaints from the community.

    The Residents live near the plant.  They appealed on the basis that the amendments did not do enough to reduce the odours emitted by the plant.  They argued that the amendments failed to address the physical discomfort they experienced as a result of the odours.  The Residents requested that the Board make various orders, including reducing the odour concentration and loading limits in the permit, and requiring the District Director to carry out air dispersion modelling.

    West Coast also appealed (Appeal Nos. 2007-EMA-007 & 2008-EMA-005), arguing that the amendments were made without legal authority and were unreasonable.

    The Board heard the appeals together in a hearing that took approximately three weeks, spread out over several months.

    The Board provided detailed reasons in a separate companion decision (see West Coast Reduction Ltd. v. District Director of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (Decision Nos. 2007-EMA-007(a) and 2008-EMA-005(a), issued March 8, 2010)).  The Board found that the District Director exceeded his jurisdiction when he issued the amendments, and that his imposition of odour limits in the permit was unreasonable and unenforceable.  Consequently, the Board rescinded the 2007 and 2008 amendments.  Given the Board’s findings, it concluded that it could not grant the remedies sought by the Residents.

    Accordingly, the Residents’ appeals were dismissed.