Township powerless over bio-digesters, North Stormont says

The new Township of North Stormont logo featured on the municipality's revamped website.

Council to meet with Ministry of Environment and Climate Change official on April 11

BERWICK — As spring brings warmer temperatures, the Township of North Stormont is bracing for the potential return of odour complaints in Crysler — by highlighting the municipality’s lack of jurisdiction over the alleged source of the problem.

In a press release issued today, the township emphasizes it has no say over a nearby agricultural bio-digester but “continues to monitor the situation as it evolves.”

On-farm bio-digesters rely on a mix of their own manure plus waste material brought from off-site to produce a reliable stream of methane. The gas is then burned in a generator to produce electricity.

Such systems “are regulated under the Nutrient Management Act. This Act is administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Enforcement of all regulations under the Act is done by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change,” the township reports in today’s release. “The municipality has not been informed by the Ministry of the Environment of any actions that have been taken or are presently being taken to address the situation.”

In the last several months, North Stormont Council has been asked to officially endorse the proposed upsizing of the generator at the existing bio-digester, and the electricity contract application of a proposed second bio-digester at another site east of Crysler. Council opted against a show of support in both cases.

Backdrop to the township’s skepticism are the odour complaints that briefly exploded on social media in Crysler last summer.

North Stormont Economic Development Officer Amy Martin has also conceded that today’s press release was prompted by a letter from the Concerned Citizens of Crysler appearing in a local newspaper recently.

The township has been bedevilled enough by the situation to seek the help of Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal, with whom members of council met last February in Toronto. They pressed for legislative changes to give municipalities “greater ability to address nuisances from bio-digester operations within their local community.”

Council to meet with Environment official April 11

North Stormont Mayor Dennis Fife told Nation Valley News that council will meet April 11 behind closed doors with a Ministry of Environment and Climate Change official on the issue. That official will also meet with the Concerned Citizens of Crysler group, so the upshot of council’s in-camera meeting “won’t be secret very long,” the mayor said.

But Fife also expressed hope that the involved farmer’s recent changes to the digester operation — including the material formula mix and the addition of a flare — will eliminate problems this summer.

In the meantime, the township also wants the public to be acquainted with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change 24-hour response line: 1-800-268-6060.



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