Bowden prison compost program taking steps
to reduce odours
Bowden Mayor Cody Berggren is no stranger to barnyard odours, but the pong coming from the nearby prison’s composting centre was a whole different animal.
“I’ll tell you, it’s a gut-wrenching stink,” he said. “I kind of grew up with farm smells. But they’re pretty sweet compared to what comes out of there.”
That’s why Berggren is glad to see the composting facility next to Bowden Institution is taking local concerns to heart and has taken a number of steps to reduce the stench.
Besides giving Hwy 2 drivers an unwelcome nose-twitching surprise as they passed by, the smell was often associated with the town and reflected poorly on the community.
“It was a bad association, I guess is what it was.”
The smell wasn’t usually too bad in town, but it was concern enough to take the issue up with Corrections Canada, the local MP and MLA.
At a recent meeting, town officials were given a rundown of a host of changes being made to reduce the odours at the facility operated by CORCAN, a rehabilitation program run by Corrections Canada that provides job training skills to inmates.
The facility, which once accepted compost waste at any time, has now restricted deliveries to 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday. Changes have also been made to the way the waste is handled. Compost piles are to be capped with a thick layer of wood chips or screened compost and mixing pads will be covered with wood chips when not in use.
Operators have also starting renting tracked equipment so work on compost piles can be done in all kinds of weather and conditions. Existing machinery could not be used when conditions were too soft or muddy.
Shirley Moen, operations manager at the facility, said in coming months they also plan to try out a promising capping technology used in the U.S. involving gypsum from recycled wallboard. It is touted to reduce odour and improve the final composting product.
A seagull problem is expected to be fixed by the cancelling of a contract with Ralston-Purina, which was sending waste that scavenger birds found particularly tasty.
Moen said the facility is planning an open house, likely in May, to let residents know what goes on at the site and the steps taken to reduce odour.
Berggren said the changes already seem to be helping.
“It does appear to be working in the short term here,” he said. “We’re keeping a close monitor on the situation to see what’s happening and whether it’s been rectified.”