Hamilton to pay $62,500 in penalties over smelly composting facility


Published July 24, 2023 at 6:09 pm


The City of Hamilton was ordered to pay a total of $62,500, including a fine and victim surcharge, for its role in discharging or causing the discharge of odour from its central composting facility, which had sparked complaints from residents and businesses.

The Ontario court made the ruling on July 20.

The facility was operated by a third party at the time of the discharge and under the Environmental Protection Act, the City pleaded guilty to the charge in its capacity as the owner of the facility, said Angela Storey, director of waste management.

“The City regrets the undue impact of the discharge on the community,” Storey said in a statement to inthehammer.com today (July 24). “We continue to make operational and procedural improvements to mitigate these types of issues in the future.”

The penalties come after the City of Hamilton was fined $2.1 million last week over the Chedoke Creek sewage spill.

The City had a contract for the facility’s design, build, operations, and maintenance with Maple Reinders Constructors Ltd., which subcontracted the facility operations and maintenance to AIM Waste Management Inc. AIM Waste Management then assigned it to AIM CCF Hamilton Inc.

Investigations revealed that a biofilter media was operating at only 60-per-cent efficiency when it was tested and that some waste materials had moved through processing stages too quickly at Hamilton Central Composting Facility on Burlington Street East, Lindsay Davidson, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, told inthehammer.com in an email.

Davidson said “a lack of due diligence” by the contractor AIM CCF contributed to the odour discharges.

“AIM implemented operational changes to address odour concerns, but without more substantial capital upgrades, which was the responsibility of the City of Hamilton, these changes were insufficient to prevent odour release,” Davidson said. “The City of Hamilton therefore was not duly diligent.”

From June 1 to 24, 2018, both Ontario’s environment ministry and the City of Hamilton received many complaints from residents and business owners near the facility about ”foul odour and symptoms such as difficulty breathing, headaches, and nausea,” Davidson said.

As a result of the complaints, on June 24, 2018, the City shut down the composting facility, which “was subsequently emptied of all odour-causing materials.”

AIM CCF and the City of Hamilton acknowledged that discharges from the facility occurred on four dates in June 2018, Davidson said.



With the government’s approved restart plan, the facility reopened in 2019.

The approved plan included reducing processing capacity to one-third  (or 20,000 tonnes) and curing material in composting tunnels rather than a separate building to ensure updated quality standards were followed. Yard waste, including grass clippings, was no longer accepted in the curbside green bin organics program.

Storey said the City also restricted the materials it accepts at the facility to City of Hamilton material only. It previously accepted material from other municipalities. In addition, the City hired a third-party company to patrol neighbourhoods surrounding the facility to monitor air quality impacts. The program has now ended.

“There have been no confirmed odour complaints since implementing the changes for the facility’s reopening in 2019,” Storey said.

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising