Regulating Emissions of Odorous Air Contaminants

Metro Vancouver is working with communities, businesses and government partners to improve its framework for managing odorous air contaminants, in a responsible manner, that respects both community and business values.

Managing odours has become an important priority for the region as the number of odour complaints from the public has increased. When present at elevated concentrations, the potential impacts of odorous air contaminants can range from nuisance to health concerns.

Odours come from a wide variety of sources including organic waste management facilities, food and animal processing facilities, industrial and agricultural activities. As residential, industrial and commercial density increases in Metro Vancouver, it is anticipated that odour concerns and complaints will continue to rise.

Continuous improvements to Metro Vancouver’s current odour management framework are needed.

In July 2018, the MVRD Board approved the Odour Management Policy Development Plan. This plan was developed in response to feedback received during consultation held between February and May 2018 on enhancing Metro Vancouver’s Odour Management Framework. The plan includes regulatory and non-regulatory actions, and highlights areas of additional work needed to implement the odour management approaches outlined below. Metro Vancouver staff are currently implementing this plan.

Metro Vancouver is considering the following approaches to effectively and responsibly manage odours:

  • Outcome-based criteria: Odour levels would be assessed at or beyond the property line to determine compliance with Metro Vancouver’s bylaws. To measure outcomes in the community, assessments could be based on computer modelling, complaints or officer odour observation standard protocols.
  • Performance-based criteria: Odour levels would be measured at the facility to determine if odorous emissions are in compliance with Metro Vancouver’s bylaws. Testing could be required at the stack or other appropriate locations at the facility.
  • Technology requirements: Facilities would be required to install specific technology and/or use best practices to comply with Metro Vancouver’s bylaws. Technologies could include biofilters, scrubbers, thermal oxidizers and enclosures.
  • Economic instruments: Metro Vancouver would structure its fee system to encourage facilities to reduce emissions of odorous air contaminants. The fee system could include annual fees, tickets, penalties or fines.
  • Potential bylaw changes: Clarifying the definition of odorous air contaminants in Metro Vancouver’s Bylaw 1082 would support improved odour management in the region.

These approaches are described in more detail in the Discussion Paper: Regulating Emissions of Odorous Air Contaminants.