RDOS moves ahead with Summerland landfill as home of regional compost facility

The Summerland landfill is officially the top choice for a regional compost facility while Marron Valley, for now, is off the list as an alternative site.

With the preferred site now chosen, staff from the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen will soon approach Summerland to talk about an access agreement to the landfill so more in-depth research and studies can be conducted. Staff at both the RDOS and Summerland will work towards a lease agreement with it first being voted on at Summerland council and then RDOS. There are no timelines set as to when that might occur.

Directors made the decision during the Environmental and Infrastructure Committee portion of the RDOS meeting in front of a gallery of about 15 people from the Marron Valley community on Thursday.

The group of neighbours and friends opposed to the site have attended every meeting the compost facility has been discussed at since it was announced as a potential site earlier this year.

“This feels amazing,” said Amy Jo Clarke, a longtime resident of the area that is trying to sell her home near Marron Valley.

She lives within a two-minute drive of where the facility, which would have composted yard waste, food waste and waste water treatment material, might have been located.

“I wished they would have abandoned the idea of locating the site in Marron Valley altogether but this is a relief,” she said.

Directors received hundreds of letters from residents opposed to the RDOS entering into a long-term lease with a Penticton Indian Band locatee in Marron Valley. Concerns raised included odour, leachate and the disruption large trucks travelling to and from the facility would have on the area.

Both MLA Linda Larson and Area D director Tom Siddon, who represents the area of Marron Valley came out strong against the idea of locating the facility there.

During Thursday’s meeting Siddon led the charge to defeat the motion to name Marron Valley as the alternative site and attempted to bring forward a motion that the site be abandoned altogether.

The committee ran out of time before a motion could be brought forward to take Marron Valley off the list completely or to add a second alternative site, which would most likely be the Oliver landfill.

Siddon did raise questions over biosolids and compost material coming from other municipalities in the north and central Okanagan.

“Part of what I heard last week is that Central Okanagan helped pay for the cost of some of the feasibility study,” he said.

Cameron Baughen, solid waste management coordinator said there were discussions at one time of building a mega compost facility that could have potentially serviced the RDOS, central and north Okanagan communities, but that was abandoned as the facility would most likely create too much odour.

“(The) only way that we would bring that forward would be to go back to public consultation with that,” he said.

Summerland mayor Peter Waterman was in full support of further studies being conducted to see if his community was a good fit for the regional compost facility.

“I’m relatively good with this motion based on the immediate information before us. I would not be very happy with additional materials coming from outside the area to Summerland,” he said.

Some residents in Summerland have voiced concerns around odour, leachate and transportation issues.

Waterman said he expects no problems with odour or leachate.

“I would expect us to use the most advanced technology available and there would be no problems with odour or leachate,” he said.

Instead of using Prairie Valley Road, alternate transportation routes have been suggested including Dale Meadows Road and Cartwright Avenue.

Extensive upgrades would need to be done to those roads if that was to go ahead, which would raise the cost of the facility significantly.

Depending on technology chosen the facility is estimated to have a price tag between $15 to $21 million to build.

It is possible that if Summerland did not enter into an agreement with the RDOS that the Marron Valley location could still be considered.

A need for a regional compost facility was identified in the 2012 Solid Waste Management Plan.

Finished compost material would be sold to the agricultural community, while water treatment compost would be used at the Campbell Mountain Landfill in a BioCover methodology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and comply with provincial standards.

Removing compost material to the Campbell Mountain landfill would increase the life of the landfill and reduce operating costs by about $25 million over its life.