Harvest Fraser Richmond Organics Ltd – Air Permit Information


We will no longer accept loads of organic materials, nor sell soil blends, after December 14, 2018. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey.


We continue to wind down the facility in an orderly manner.


In the spirit of ongoing transparency following the environmental appeal board (EAB) process, we were issued this permit. The Group Appellants did not accept this amended permit, so their appeal still stands and will be considered by the Panel at a future date.

Per our announcement in August, we continue to wind down the facility in an orderly manner.

As of Oct 12, 2018 Harvest Fraser Richmond Organics has made a filing under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) regarding our operations in Richmond and North Vancouver. More information can be found at http://www.ey.com/ca/HFRO. Any media inquiries should contact our spokesperson, Meredith Sorensen at 206-569-0344.


These documents are relevant to the upcoming environmental appeal board (EAB) process:


Harvest has made a business decision not to proceed with the CASP replacement and will begin to take steps to wind down its compost operations in Richmond, British Columbia. Regulatory uncertainties and other variables beyond our control have driven Harvest to make this decision and we regret any impact this will cause to our employees and customers.  Harvest plans to continue its operations in accordance with the existing Permit and to work with its customers to facilitate an orderly transition.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have a few updates, and created an FAQ to help answer questions.

  1. What’s going on at Harvest?

We continue to stay focused on continuous improvement in operations. Also, this summer (2018) we have two separate-but-related items going on: we have submitted a plan to replace our Covered Aerated Static Pile (CASP) and associated biofilter system, and we have an air permit hearing in September 2018.

  1. What does the CASP replacement plan include?

The CASP replacement plan is designed to meet our air permit requirements and deliver significantly improved odour management performance. Our aim is to prevent odours from developing in the first place; any odours that do develop will be collected and treated. The key design principles for odour reduction include controlling feedstock, aeration, temperature, and moisture. Therefore, the designed system includes the following elements:

  • a new mixing area for feedstock preparation to ensure accuracy and consistency in feedstock blends;
  • a new central roadway so we can maintain clean working surfaces
  • a new loading system that enables the placement of feedstock in a manner that maximizes composting performance;
  • new pipes and blower capacity for increased airflow volumes and distribution so we can be sure that every corner of the pile is properly aerated, receiving enough oxygen and maintaining the proper temperature;
  • zoned control systems so we can manage the airflow, temperature, and moisture according to where the piles are at in the composting process;
  • bi-directional or reversing airflow system to enable us to keep the temperature and moisture levels in the optimum range, as well as keep pipes clear for smooth airflow;
  • new biofilters of increased (and proportional) size to the new cASP to treat odourous air that can be generated;
  • increased biocover in both the CASP and Secondary Aeration to provide additional odour treatment;
  • secondary aeration to ensure airflow and odour control during the final phase of composting.

We developed a short video to illustrate these elements.

  1. What is the timeline for this project?

We will be able to replace the CASP following approval from our regulators and other key stakeholders. 

  1. What is the facility doing to manage its odours?

Odour management is an ongoing process. Again, the strategy is to prevent odours from developing in the first place, and then to capture and treat any residual odours so they don’t disturb our neighbours. Composting is a bit like baking: to do it right, you need to prepare and mix the ingredients correctly (managing key variables such as the composition of the materials, particle size, and density) and then “bake” under the proper conditions (managing key variables such as temperature, moisture, oxygen, and airflow). We issued a report in April 2017 that explained the actions we had taken thus far and the results of these efforts. We continue to closely track odour indicator metrics – such as odour units and odour complaints – and our generation of unpleasant odours has gone down.

  1. How does this CASP replacement compare with your existing operations?

While the current system has been much improved and meets or out-performs our permit terms and conditions, the CASP replacement is designed to further improve upon operational effectiveness and odour mitigation.

  1. I’ve heard about an air permit hearing. What does that entail?

The Environmental Appeal Board will hold an appeal hearing in September 2018 about the rules under which we operate, specifically our air permit. When we received our most recent air permit in 2016, we appealed because it includes a subjective odour test, referred to as a “sniff test.” The sniff test is an imprecise, unreliable, and unscientific method of measuring odour in the environment.  We liken this to having speeding tickets based on subjective observations (“too fast”) instead of measurements (100 km/hour). We have submitted expert evidence on this point, and look forward to presenting this further at the appeal hearing in September.

  1. What do the other parties involved in the air permit hearing say?

A number of Richmond residents also appealed the air permit.  They have made various arguments, but generally contend that the air permit should not have been issued at all.

  1. Where can I get more information?

On Composting:

  • The government of Canada produced an extremely informative Technical Document on Municipal Solid Waste Organics Processing. It explains all of the science and principles around composting and anaerobic digestion – including managing feedstocks, aeration, temperature, and moisture – with easy-to-understand illustrations.

On Harvest:


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so. This month chicken manure and other sources have been generating unpleasant odours in the community.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.

  • This month, tighter regulations began: on January 1, 2018 the radius for detecting odour from our facility tightened from 5 kilometers to 4 kilometers.
  • Looking ahead, under our permit we may no longer accept new material in half of our Covered Aerated Static Pile (CASP) system after February 1, 2018 unless that section has been replaced. We are not replacing that half of the CASP. Rather, we will not place any more inbound material on that half of the system starting Feb 1. This is in line with our permit. After that section is taken out of service, the new replacement composting aeration system will be built there.

Our ongoing goals are to help the Metro Vancouver region meet organic recycling targets and to be a good neighbour.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so.


Harvest understands that there was a significant upsurge in odours in Richmond over the last couple of days. Metro Vancouver has informed us that some of those complaints have been attributed to our composting facility. We understand they are investigating further; other potential sources of this odour event include fresh manure (it is the time of year when it is being spread on farms) as well as a nearby wastewater treatment facility. There have been no changes in volumes or operations at our facility during that time that could cause such an increase in odours. We continue to work diligently to address odours caused by our facility.


We have focused our efforts on keeping odours low and continue to do so. Here is a summary report of our actions.


The main change this month is that we have suspended the acceptance of pure food waste at the facility. This is yet another step we've taken to improve the performance of our system by reducing the volume and optimizing the composition of the material that flows through our system. We continue to focus efforts on keeping odours low.


We continue to focus our efforts on reducing odours. That is our top priority. For example, this month we are swapping out our main biofilters. Biofilters take in odourous air, consume the odours as food, and release filtered air as steam, illustrated below. Fresh biofilters typically demonstrate improved performance immediately, and then get even more effective over time as the odour-eating bacteria multiply.

Biofilter Diagram


We continue to focus on our day-to-day operation. Also, we have made arrangements to speed up the execution of long-term capital improvements.


Thanks to all who braved the weather conditions to attend the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) meeting on Thursday, Dec 8, from 7:00pm-8:30pm at the Hilton Vancouver Airport Hotel, 5911 Minoru Boulevard, Richmond. We will keep the public informed when the next meeting has been scheduled. In the meantime, a couple follow up items:

  • Presentation: The material presented at the meeting.
  • Handout: Summary of updates, as well as an FAQ.


Thank you to everyone who came out last night (Wednesday Nov 9) to our public meeting in Richmond!

We set up the meeting at the request of the Community Liaison Committee, who had identified the need for it if there were parties who appealed our new air emissions permit. Over 70 people showed up to ask questions of Harvest CEO Chris Kasper and Metro Vancouver District Director Ray Robb. CBC news also provided coverage.

We really appreciated your input and will incorporate it into our work to address odours and keep the community informed of our progress. We will be holding another such meeting in early December to talk about progress - stay tuned for the date, time and place.

Also, this month we've posted the following letter (see pdf) in the Richmond News (see the Nov 2nd issue), the Vancouver Sun, the Ming Pao (see the translation) news. We are committed to keeping the community informed.


Metro Vancouver issued a new air emissions permit to us (Harvest Fraser Richmond Organics) on the last day of September. We then met with members of the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) on October 17th, 2016 to provide updates and listen. In the interest of ongoing communication and transparency, the following documents provide our latest update to the City of Richmond, including information on site upgrades, immediate actions, and timelines.


We continue to work on the odour issue, and will be bringing in new equipment in the coming weeks. We are also still awaiting issuance of new permit from Metro Vancouver, after which we’ll be able to begin executing our investment plan to pilot and deploy substantial facility upgrades.


At the request of Metro Vancouver, we (Harvest) applied for and received a 2-month extension to our existing approval with a new expiry date of September 30, 2016. We continue to keep the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) posted as discussions progress.


Harvest Power has submitted several Supplements to its original Application of November 2015. This material is still being reviewed by Metro Vancouver and conversations are ongoing. In the meantime, Harvest Power has received a 1-month extension to our existing Approval with a new expiry date of July 29, 2016. We will be sure to keep the Community Liaison Committee and this website posted as discussions progress.


We have requested a 90-day extension to our existing Approval from Metro Vancouver, at their direction, as Metro staff have indicated the current process would not be finished by June 30th.


Harvest Fraser Richmond Organics Ltd is committed to working with the community to provide sustainable solutions to managing society’s organic materials. In order to ensure a flow of communication, Harvest and the community have formed a Community Liaison Committee (CLC). See Community Liaison Committee (CLC) tab for information about upcoming events.

Other Information
  • Terms of Reference for Community Liaison Committee
  • Public Comment Responses
  • Notes – CLC Meeting – March 2016

  • UPDATE ON MARCH 25, 2016

    As part of the public input period, we received many questions and comments about both the air permit application and our facility’s operations. Responses to those questions can be read here.

    UPDATE ON MARCH 8, 2016

    On March 3, Harvest hosted an Open House and Public Forum for the community. In the interest of transparency and participation, we wanted to post the documents presented to the audience.

    • Open House Posters - These posters were displayed along the back of the room to further explain the facility, emissions, and odour management.
    • Public Forum Slides - These slides were presented by Harvest and Metro Vancouver in the front of the room. Following there was a question-and-answer session.

    Other relevant documents include:

    In addition, we sent the following letter to attendees:

    Thank you very much for taking the time to attend the Open House/Town Hall meeting last week. We at Harvest Fraser Richmond Organics truly appreciate your input. As we mentioned throughout the evening, Harvest has already committed to several immediate, concrete steps to address your concerns. Specifically:

    1. We have hired a third party advisor (ECS-Engineered Compost Systems) to advise regularly on improved odour management practices and to help us explore options for long-term equipment upgrades.
    2. With ECS’s help, we are undertaking a thorough review and revision of our standard operating procedures to incorporate industry-standard Best Management Practices for compost production and odour control.
    3. We had previously initiated and will continue an aggressive program of equipment repair, replacement, and upgrades, including but not limited to replacement of biofilter media and overhaul of the air pipe system underlying the compost floor.

    In addition, there were many helpful suggestions offered by participants in the Town Hall and in subsequent communications we’ve received. We will continue to evaluate and consider these, and have already determined to take action on several of them. These include the following:

    • Limitation on certain inbound feedstocks. Several people suggested we at least temporarily suspend receipt of certain types of inbound material that have particularly high odour potential. We have determined to discontinue accepting certain types of food waste, effective immediately.
    • Direct odour complaint hot-line to Harvest. Several people asked for a direct way to communicate complaints to Harvest, separate from and in addition to calling the Metro Vancouver hotline. We have therefore set up a recorded line to Harvest, which will be monitored frequently, at 604-836-8387. In addition, you may contact us by email at richmondairpermit@harvestpower.com. If you are calling to register a complaint, please be as specific as possible about the time, location, nature of the smell, and duration. Also, please let us know when we’re doing well – e.g., if you did NOT smell something at a time of day when you typically do, that is also important information for us to know.
    • Potential Citizen Liaison Committee. We received a suggestion to establish a Citizen Liaison Committee in order to improve the flow of communication. We are favorably inclined to do so, and would like to hear any suggestions you might have about what that might look like, how it could be organized, and whether you might like to participate.

    These are first steps, with more to come. We are confident that you will begin to notice a positive impact. At the same time, we remind you that due to the months-long nature of the composting process, improvements will inevitably be gradual and take place over a period of weeks and months, rather than be instantaneous. We thank you in advance for your patience.


    What’s going on?

    Members of the community have submitted comments to Metro Vancouver with regard to Harvest Fraser Richmond Organics’ application to renew Air Permit No. GVA1054 as authorized under Greater Vancouver Regional District Air Quality Management Bylaw 1082, 2008. The Air Permit authorizes emissions from the Harvest composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. Both Harvest and Metro Vancouver have read all of the comments and have determined that it would be helpful to have a public meeting to discuss the permit application.

    What’s next?

    The community is invited to an Open House/Town Hall on March 3. The purpose of this event is information exchange: to explain the application and proposed environmental protection measures, address comments already submitted by the public, and to hear and understand any additional concerns. We hope that by working together and engaging in constructive dialogue with our neighbors, we can find the best ways to help meet our society’s recycling and waste management goals while ensuring environmental quality. During the Open House portion of the March 3 event, Harvest and Metro Vancouver representatives will be available at several information stations to explain the application and permit processes, answer questions, and listen to concerns. During the Town Hall portion, both Harvest and Metro Vancouver representatives will make formal presentations, engage in Question-and-Answer dialogue, and listen to comments. You may participate in either or both sessions.

    DATE: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
    TIME: 5:30-9pm (Open House: 5:30-6:30pm / Town Hall: 6:30-9pm).
    LOCATION: Hilton Vancouver Airport, 5911 Minoru Boulevard Richmond BC
    How do I get more information?

    Thank you again for your ongoing concern for our community. If you have questions about this event, feel free to contact us at richmondairpermit@harvestpower.com

    Harvest Fraser Richmond Organics Ltd is committed to working with the community to provide sustainable solutions to managing society’s organic materials. In order to ensure a flow of communication, Harvest and the community have formed a Community Liaison Committee (CLC).

    Next Meeting

    TIME: 7-8:30pm
    LOCATION: Hilton Vancouver Airport, Ellington Ballroom, 5911 Minoru Blvd, Richmond

    We will be providing an update on the actions we are taking to improve our organics recycling facility located in Richmond. This will be followed by an opportunity to ask questions.

    Other Information


    What does Harvest Fraser Richmond Organics Ltd do?

    We turn our region’s organic materials such as food scraps and yard trimmings into clean, renewable electricity and high quality compost and soil blends. Every year we:

    • Process over 200,000 metric tonnes of organic materials
    • Generate 6,500 mWh of clean, renewable electricity, enough to power 1,000 homes
    • Provide over 180,000 cubic yards of top quality soil products for local landscapes

    The combination of recycling, clean energy, and soil revitalization is helping the Lower Mainland achieve its sustainability goals.

    Cycle Diagram with Benefits to the Metro Region

    Why have I recently read about you in the news?

    There are two reasons.

    First, we’ve recently applied to renew our air permit from Metro Vancouver, our regulator. Part of that process involves getting public feedback to ensure we can hear – and address – the questions and concerns of the community.

    Second, there have been public complaints about odours that people have linked to our facility. Both of these subjects have been carried in the media.


    Emission Chart

    Is your new air permit related to increasing your emissions?

    No. Our emissions will not increase. We are applying for an increase in permitted emissions, but not in actual air emissions. Those will not increase from what they currently are.

    The emissions come from our Richmond facility, which includes organics composting and our energy garden (anaerobic digester). When the first air permit was put in place, neither Harvest nor Metro Vancouver had relevant data on what the actual emissions from the site would be. So we relied on data modelling for an estimate, and that is what Metro Vancouver put in the original permit. But data collection shows that the estimates were flawed and does not reflect our actual emissions. So we are asking that our permit be re-aligned to reflect reality.


    How do your VOC emissions compare to the rest of the region?

    Our total emissions amount to less than one-half of 1% of the estimated total emissions of the Lower Fraser Valley airshed according to as measured in this Metro Vancouver report in 2013.

    What will you be emitting?

    The air permit regulates certain types of emissions that could cause pollution. The emission type for which we are seeking an increase limit for is called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a large group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. There are thousands of different VOCs produced and used in our daily lives. If you want to learn more, Environment Canada provides explanations and data around emissions from common sources, pictured below. Our goal is to minimize the emissions we produce.


    What about the odours that people are complaining about?

    Dealing with organic materials creates odours. That is a fact that anyone who has done their own composting knows first-hand. They are a by-product of the composting process.

    Additionally the weather – particularly the wind, which moves odours around – has a large effect on the odours we perceive. There are also odours from other local sources, such as agriculture and wastewater treatment plants on Annacis Island (Delta) and on Lulu and Iona Islands (Richmond). Those often get confused with ours.

    How do you know you’re NOT the source of all complaints?

    We maintain a database of real-time weather conditions, with data supplied from our on-site weather station and from the Ministry of Environment weather stations in the region. When complaints come in, we correlate the wind direction with the time and location of the complaint. Sometimes, people blame us for odours when they were actually upwind from our site. However, when the weather data indicate we may have been the source of the complaint, we investigate the potential causes and make adjustments to our processes to try to reduce or eliminate the problem.

    What are you doing about the odours?

    We do everything we can to limit and control those odours. That has included putting new technology and processes in place over the past couple of years. Among the steps we take are to receive customized forecasts from UBC so that we can proactively adjust our operations to try to minimize the impact when weather conditions may be troublesome.

    Community Input

    What’s the next step in the permit process?

    We received our updated air permit in late October 2016.

    Where can I share my thoughts?

    In addition to this website where we post regular updates and notifications on upcoming Community Liaison Committee (CLC) meetings, there are a few options: