Frustrated with a foul stench lingering in their community for months, Ladysmith residents took to the city’s public works yard in protest Wednesday.

The stench began when the city expanded its wastewater treatment plant last spring, doubling the volume of biosolids at the plant and exacerbating the smell.

Dozens of people carrying petitions and placards swarmed the public works yard Wednesday, telling mayor Aaron Stone that in the last six months they’ve been living in what smells like an outhouse – and it’s time for the city to take action.

“It changes your life. You open the front door and it’s like you’re stepping into an outhouse,” said one fed-up resident who attended.

Others shouted that the plant needs to be relocated immediately.

Stone said he sympathizes with those complaining about the stench, and that staff are working to find a solution to what has unfortunately been dubbed the “Ladysmith Linger.”

“It’s absolutely unacceptable,” said Stone. “What we’re trying to find is an interim solution to get the odour issue resolved, and a long-term solution where we can have a suitable compost facility.”

But the mayor stressed that a solution will take time.

“It’s a matter of finding a willing seller to find an appropriate property. We’ve solicited properties that are not for sale,” he said.

Some Ladysmith residents say the biggest concern to them is the perceived health risks the biosolids pose, with many saying they’ve thrown up because of the smell, get bad headaches or that kids have opted to play inside during recess and lunch.

The city maintains that the scent does not pose any risk to the public.

Island Health says it has received complaints about the issue, and is currently investigating.