The idea of revisiting Marron Valley and Summerland Landfill as possible sites for a regional compost facility materialized at the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen board meeting Thursday.
After a staff presentation about siting the regional facility and discussion, Michael Brydon, director for Area F (West Bench, Okanagan Lake) made a motion to reengage with the locatee of the property in Marron Valley and to reopen discussions with the District of Summerland.
“I think we need to reengage Summerland and reengage Marron Valley. If we don’t we are going to be faced with a terrible solution. The reality is garbage is not going away and we have to deal with it,” he said.
Marron Valley and Summerland Landfill were listed as preferred locations for the regional compost facility, when built will compost household and commercial food waste, yard waste and biosolids from waste water treatment plants in Penticton, Summerland, Keremeos and Okanagan Falls.
RDOS staff has worked on siting a regional compost facility for more than seven years, hiring several consultants and even having talks with realtors to come up with possible property options.
Staff short listed six sites including Marron Valley and Summerland last year. Under intense public pressure related to concerns about possible leachate, odour and truck traffic, directors rejected Marron Valley as a possible site and supported Summerland. However, in fall 2017 Summerland council, after similar public concerns surfaced, rejected the idea of even entering into an agreement to allow further testing be done at the landfill to see if the site was feasible.
Oliver landfill was the next option, but directors heard Thursday the property was too small to be used as a regional facility and although adjacent landowners were contacted they showed no interest in selling or leasing their property.
Cameron Baughen, solid waste management coordinator for the RDOS, said at its current size the Oliver landfill could only accommodate residential food waste from Oliver, Osoyoos, and Areas A and C and even that would impact the life expectancy of the landfill.
“It would not be able to accept commercial food waste so that would continue to go to the landfill,” he said.
Brydon’s suggestion to reexamine Marron Valley and Summerland landfill met with mixed reaction from directors.
Tom Siddon, director for Area D, glibly retorted, “It would be nice if they would consider a site in West Bench as well.”
Although the locatee site is part of the Penticton Indian Band, a portion of Marron Valley is also located in Area D.
During the process, Siddon came out strong against the facility being built in Marron Valley and rejected the idea of reengaging with the locatee. He suggested another consultant be hired to look at different siting options within and outside the RDOS and encouraged board members to table any decision until after upcoming municipal election this November.
“Spend $100,000, whatever it takes, before we rush into it,” he said.
Helena Konanz, a director for the City of Penticton, agreed with Brydon and was prepared to second the motion.
She suggested Marron Valley and Summerland could, “ask for the moon right now,” if they would agree to allow further testing.
Konanz clarified her statement by saying they could ask that state-of-the-art compost technology be used and extensive road upgrades be done.
“They can always go back and say no again, but I think if we were to sit and really offer quite a bit to those communities something would come forward.”
Peter Waterman, Mayor of Summerland, was cautious about limiting staff to only look at those two sites.
“I would rather see the motion be more general… reexamine options available throughout the region,” he said, adding, “The way we are doing it right now it’s just going to be a furious onslaught of resistance from both areas.”
Before a vote could be called on revisiting Marron Valley and Summerland Landfill, Andre Martin, director for Penticton, suggested the matter be deferred.
Directors voted in favour of deferring providing staff direction on how to proceed with siting a regional compost facility to a future meeting.
As part of the 2012 Solid Waste Management Plan, directors at that time identified removing food and organic waste from landfills as a priority along with upgrading wastewater treatment sludge composting operations.
Food waste going into the landfill increases the methane produced .
The RDOS is currently undertaking a pilot project at the Campbell Mountain Landfill where a biocover is used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The biocover, if it meets provincial standards, will be used at the landfill instead of a provincially required gas capture system that would burn the methane off.
The RDOS application to the province to use the biocover method is contingent on all organics being banned from the landfill.