Summerland residents came out to voice their concerns about a proposed regional compost facility considered for the community.
More than 120 people, the majority of them unhappy with the proposal, attended a public information meeting at the Summerland IOOF Hall on Wednesday evening.
Cameron Baughen, solid waste management coordinator for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, said the proposed facility could save 3,500 to 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and extend the life of landfills in the area.
However, there are concerns about odour from the facility, transportation of the materials and leachate.
To reach the site, the trucks would pass through seven kilometres of residential areas.
Baughen said other sites with problems have been poorly located, using the wrong technology or handling too much material or the wrong materials.
He said the regional district is working to create a clean site, without problems.
“We want to make sure that this site is world class,” he said. “Once you make your neighbours your enemies, you’ll never get them back.”
At present, the regional district is considering two sites, one in the Marron Valley area and one behind the Summerland landfill.
The costs of operating a compost facility at either site is roughly the same, Baughen said.
Residents speaking at the meeting raised concerns about the effects of the site on the community.
Dave Smith, a retired fisheries biologist, said the proposed Summerland site is close to the water treatment facility.
Baughen said the regional district will monitor the groundwater and will work to ensure liquids from the compost facility do not contaminate the soil or the groundwater.
Others raised concerns about the increased traffic along Prairie Valley Road. This road, a secondary highway, passes by two elementary schools on the way to the proposed facility.
Margaret Holler said the traffic volume, estimated at 20 to 25 trucks a day, would be a potential danger to the children at the elementary schools.
People living in the area said they already have concerns about the safety of children along the busy road.
Marilyn Hansen said the projected traffic level could increase significantly in future years.
“Most of us in this room think that this is the wrong location,” she said.
Odour concerns were also mentioned during the evening.
Some who live in the area said evening winds tend to blow from the west, bringing odours from the site to their homes.
Baughen said these catabolic winds have already been considered in the preliminary studies.
Others suggested finding an isolated location for the compost facility and constructing an access road to the site.
Baughen said the regional district has considered an isolated location, but added that the cost of the access road would be prohibitively expensive.
Regional district staff will present comments from this meeting and from an earlier meeting in Kaleden.
The regional district board will make its recommendation of where to locate the site, but if Summerland is selected, the municipality must also approve the proposal.