Landowners in Marron Valley are concerned property values are going to decay as talk continues around building a regional compost facility in the area.
Connie Cathelin-Castle who owns a 20-acre property that backs on to the proposed site said as soon as potential buyers hear about the organics facility they walk. Along with her husband, Rudy Castle, they have spent 20 years working the land and manicuring it to be what they call the most beautiful properties in the valley.
“We’ve had a lot of people look at it. They love it and are really interested until they hear about the organics,” she said after a public meeting in Kaleden on Wednesday about the proposed facility.
They fear if the facility goes ahead and is built on locatee property owned by a member of the Penticton Indian Band that their home will never sell. The couple have had the home for sale privately for the last few years, conscious of the reality that as they age they might not be able to maintain the property.
They officially listed it for sale with a realtor just a few months ago after reducing their asking price significantly.
“We’ve already reduced our price. People are interested. It’s a great property. But as soon as they hear about the controversy over the site they aren’t interested. I certainly understand their feelings,” Cathelin-Castle said.
More than 100 people, mostly from the Marron Valley community, attended a public meeting about the development. Many of the 31 property owners located within an odour control area, determined through a feasibility study by the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen, expressed concerns about property values.
Amy Jo Clark who owns property within a two minute drive of the proposed facility questioned whether the RDOS had plans to compensate residents for lost property values.
She pointed out that it would be three to five years until the facility was in operation and several years before it could be proven that the area was not negatively affected by odour or other problems while in the meantime property owners must wait in limbo.
“There’s no question you’ve reduced property values by 100’s of thousands of dollars,” she said.
The longtime resident also raised concerns regarding leachate, water quality and the number of trucks that would be going up and down the Marron Valley Road.
Cameron Baughen, solid waste management co-ordinator for the RDOS said at this point the regional district had not setup anyway to compensate property owners and encouraged residents several times throughout the meeting to stay involved by sending in comments or concerns to the RDOS or talking to their elected officials.
Staff at the RDOS have worked over the last seven years on siting an organics facility that could take yard and food waste, wood chips and treatment sludge for the region. During that time 18 sites were considered and six, including Summerland, underwent further studyafter the RDOS received a federal grant.
The feasibility study looked at factors including odour control and potential properties affected, cost, impact on the Campbell Mountain Landfill and transportation to and from the site. During the studies 31 properties were identified in Marron Valley as having the potential to be affected by odour at points throughout the year. The modelling showed that no properties would be affected by odour if the Summerland Landfill was chosen.
Odour control is top of mind for staff at RDOS, Baughen said, adding although the operation of the facility will be contracted out the regional district will have strict monitoring in place.
To control odour and leachate the composting will take place inside a building and on concrete. The finished compost will also be stored in a building. By having the compost contained it will not be exposed to the elements and leachate will be able to be captured and recirculated.
“We want to do this right the first time,” he said.
Jackie Goodfellow and her family moved to the area just six months ago. Her home is in the odour zone but her major concerns surround the large trucks that would now be flooding the road.
“In my experience this is a winding, steep dangerous road that you’re now going to send large trucks down. And then there is the junction to consider. There are times I spend 12 minutes sitting there trying to turn and now you’re going to be sending 25 trucks a day through there,” she said. “On paper it may look like a good choice but the reality is that it’s not.”
The major concern with the Summerland Landfill is that trucks would have to travel through seven kilometres of road mainly through residential areas and past a school.
The next public meeting on the organics compost facility will take place in Summerland on May 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Odd Fellows/Rebekah Hall.
Staff will include comments at public information meetings in their recommendation to the board of the RDOS sometime in June.