There are no plans to move community composting project behind Royal City Brewing after being told to relocate, organizers say.
In July 2022, Compost Queens of the Royal City, Yorklands Greenhub and Royal City Brewing, teamed up to create a new community compost system and pollinator garden, located behind the plaza that houses Royal City Brewing at the corner of York Road and Victoria Road South.
Since then, community businesses and individuals have contributed to the composting system, a project that Karen Houle, co-founder of Compost Queens of the Royal City, says is entirely guided by the principles of, and in the direction of soil remediation, ‘directly, locally, and quickly’.
“Initially, Royal City Brewing had food waste including barley waste from brewing. So, we thought, let’s get a composter going and other clients in the plaza might also have something to contribute,” Houle said.
"Every small business has something that they can divert to this community-level compost system. It’s a catchment area for local businesses."
But last month, Houle was notified that the property landlord, Sherwood Forest Investments, wants the composter dismantled.
“This project began over a year ago. And we’ve just received word now, that it has to be taken down,” Houle said.
“And that was it. There was no offer to discuss or to remedy any problems.”
Houle said a partner in the project informed her there had been ‘numerus complaints’ about bugs and odour produced from the composter.
Sherwood Forest Investments did not respond to several requests for comment.
“Businesses in the area are happy and put much of their waste in there as well. That’s why I was surprised to hear this, and with no explanation,” Houle said of unconfirmed complaints.
“There’s no smell. There are no bugs, maybe a few wasps but right now, but there are wasps everywhere."
Initially, Houle says Sherwood Forest Investments expected a black composter bin.
“I told them that won’t work. I’m a compost expert. They are never big enough. I promised that there would be no smell and no vermin. We built it and it was up and running and checked regularly,” Houle said.
“I said that if there were any concerns, to go over and check out the one at Two Rivers Huron Street Community Garden that we also built and that has been running for three years. It’s perfect.”
Houle says the compost system on York Road is incredible as it produces vast amounts of compost in about four months.
"It’s genius and works so well. There are no vermin, there is no smell,” Houle said.
The Compost Queens of the Royal City is a project of The Art of Soil Collective. Founded in 2019, the collective is entirely volunteer driven and works with the goal of working together as a collective, welcoming anyone to contribute to a more sustainable world.
“Honestly, all we wanted to do was to move that site into a better state of health, land-wise. We are in no way deluded about the size of the impact our community-based compost system will have. And yet, it does already, and will continue to support thriving plant life," Houle said.
Currently, there are no plans to remove the composter.
“We are not going to take it down. It’s ridiculous. There’s just not enough there to warrant us taking it down," Houle said.
Houle hopes all parties can come together to find a solution.