'It's a putrid, horrific smell': Parents cry foul over odour at Abbotsford school

The carbon air filters that were installed last year at King Traditional Elementary School in Abbotsford are no match for the stench that frequently permeates the hallways.

Students, staff, teachers and parents have complained about a foul odour in the area since the spring of 2017.

Shannon Gaudette says she and her husband gagged earlier this week when they dropped their daughter off at school.

"It's absolutely horrendous," she said. "It's a putrid, horrific smell."

Stopping the stink

Parents believed the the source of the smell was a nearby property where poultry manure was stored. They contacted WorksafeBC, the school district and sent a petition with 300 signatures to B.C.'s environment minister.

Soon after, inspectors from the province were sent to the site on Bradner Road.

As the province began an investigation, Abbotsford School District secretary treasurer Ray Velestuk met with the property owner.

"We had seen some alleviation of some of the issues," he said. "They were working at different hours to avoid the odour during our peak hours."

He says the district received fewer complaints toward the end of the last school year and was hopeful the problem had been resolved. However, when students returned to class earlier this year, the stench was back.

Calls to the property owner from CBC News have not been returned.

Jesse Johnston/CBC

Ministry response

In June, 2018, provincial inspectors were sent back to the property.

The ministry has sent warning letters to the property owner, stating the land should be in full compliance with the Environmental Management Act.

"Reports have been received by the ministry from multiple sources of a property being used to blend poultry manure from several sources," the ministry said in a statement.

"Ministry staff are following up on this issue, including determining if an authorization is needed for the activities on site."

Gaudette says students and staff are tired of waiting for the province to take action.

"I get that they have to follow their policies," she said. "In the meantime, there are kids and parents and teachers at the school that have to deal with feeling nauseous."