By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD
Biosolids, and ways to stop them from being put on the ground, will be under the microscope of Thompson-Nicola Regional District directors.
The board will organize a workshop to that end after debating the issue at length during Thursday’s (April 19, 2018) regular meeting.
Directors Randy Murray (Area M – Nicola Valley North) and Ken Gills (Area L – Grasslands) presented a motion proposing this:
“That the TNRD hold a TNRD Board workshop(s) focused on:
“the elimination of the land application of bio solids within the TNRD, and
“the review and implementation of alternative disposal/ storage methods for the region (gasification and/ or sequester) with the intent to end the land application of biosolids within the TNRD by delegated provincial authority.”
Murray made an impassioned case for working toward elimination of land application, a controversial practice that opponents say spreads toxins into the ground. Murray has long argued against it, siding with Nicola Valley residents who want it stopped.
While many directors spoke in favour of his proposal, others felt an objective approach is needed.
Kamloops director Ken Christian said it’s okay to study it but not to jump to conclusions. He said taking a biased approach on the workshop would be a “disservice” and a “waste of everybody’s time.”
Fellow Kamloops director Arjun Singh agreed with Christian, saying the workshop shouldn’t take a pre-determined position.
“I’d like to have this workshop but I don’t want to have this workshop with the end in mind,” he said.
Singh moved an amendment that would take the word “elimination” out of the first sentence and remove reference to the section beginning with “with the intent to end the land application….”
Though I felt Christian and Singh had a valid point, after listening to debate around the table, I opposed the amendment and voted for the motion because I like the idea of putting the status quo to the test. I also think the use of gasification deserves more attention as an alternative disposal method.
I argued that there’s significant public concern about applying biosolids to land and a workshop could hear science both from those who oppose it and those who assert it’s safe.
In fact, I suggested the workshop be set up in the form of a formal debate on the question of whether land application of biosolids should be eliminated.
It would be a dramatic departure from past board workshops so I doubt it will gain traction, but the debate format would certainly attract a lot of public interest and provide an easy way to compare both sides of the argument.
After Singh’s motion was defeated, the question on the original motion was called. Since votes aren’t counted individually, it’s often hard to know the exact count but it looked to me to be about 20-6 in favour.
Staff was then asked to look into the details and costs of holding the workshop. Since it’s a workshop, information from it won’t be binding on the board but it’s very possible it could provide direction for some new policies or lobbying.