Barrhaven residents raise stink over dump's growing aroma

Some Barrhaven residents are raising a stink about a foul odour wafting through their neighbourhood that they say is emanating from the nearby Trail Road landfill.

City taking measures to reduce smell wafting from Trail Road facility

Garbage trucks come and go from the city's Trail Road waste facility in this 2014 file photo. Residents northeast of the facility say a foul odour is wafting from the site some 5 km away to where they live. (Google Streetview)

Some Barrhaven residents are raising a stink about a foul odour wafting through their neighbourhood that they suspect is emanating from the nearby Trail Road landfill.

People living in Half Moon Bay, five kilometres northeast of the landfill, say the funk from the waste facility became much more offensive last summer, and has lingered over the area ever since.

"It is just so distinct, the smell. It's almost like a chemical, organic smell," said Jennie Esnard, who moved to the area six years ago.

She said she loves everything about her neighbourhood except for the miasma that's settled over the community — a stench that she says wasn't nearly as evident when she moved in.

"I didn't put two and two together that this dump could affect me," Esnard said.
Jennie Esnard said she loves everything about her picturesque Barrhaven neighbourhood of Half Moon Bay. Everything, that is, except the stench of rotting garbage. (Courtesy Jen Esnard)

Heavy rain likely cause

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder said she's hearing from an increasing number of residents concerned about the smell. Harder said the uptick in complaints over the past six months prompted her to seek answers from city staff.

"It's a concern," Harder acknowledged.

She said the province enforces a buffer zone around landfills where homes can't be built, and the neighbourhood that's become the source of the complaints is well outside that area. According to the Ontario government, the perimeter is about three kilometres from the city-owned Trail Road facility.

Marilyn Journeaux, the city's director of solid waste services, told Harder record precipitation is the likely cause of the recent odour.

In an email, Journeaux said the extra moisture allows bacteria to thrive, spurring rapid decomposition of the garbage and producing what Harder called "garbage juice." That liquid creates a smelly gas that sometimes escapes into the atmosphere..

Anti-odour measures coming

This month the city will install a new system around the perimeter of the landfill to capture the gas. It's a pilot project until a more permanent solution is installed.

"I'm not sure it's enough," said Harder. She said if residents don't detect an improvement she will ask for odour detectors to be set up in the affected area.

Harder said residents can help reduce the aroma coming from the landfill by making use of their green bins, which are emptied elsewhere. She said the more organic waste that goes to Trail Road, the stinkier the dump will get.

In the meantime, Esnard said she'll keep her windows closed and burn candles when the stench gets bad. But she said if it doesn't improve, she'll consider moving.