Regional district has residents talking trash

The regional district wants the public to come out and talk trash, in the literal sense.

The regional district wants the public to come out and talk trash, in the literal sense.

Public open houses and an online survey is helping guide the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen to develop a waste management plan to carry them into the next 20 years.

“Right now our plan is from 1996, so it is quite old and a lot of technologies have changed since then,” said Cameron Baughen, solid waste management co-ordinator for the RDOS. “We have achieved almost all of the objectives, so the goal for the next plan is to set objectives for the next 20 years.”

The RDOS wants to hear from residents and businesses about their thoughts on proposals for future recycling, composting and landfill programs. The programs proposed in the draft plan could see a reduction of more than 70 per cent, saving valuable landfill space and better protecting the environment. The major focus is to maximize the current landfill space and not fill it with materials that can be recycled or composted.

Some of the initiatives outlined in the plan include making recycling mandatory for all multi-family and commercial developments, set up a waste and recycling transfer station at Apex and curbside collection for Carmi, require composting of all food scraps once a facility is in place, consider regulatory approaches to reduce waste generated by construction and demolition activities and ban readily recyclable materials from being buried in landfills.

Baughen estimated 40 per cent of the landfill waste is organic.

“A large portion of our food waste ends up in the garbage because a lot of people aren’t composting. For those items that people can’t compost easily in their own backyard, we are looking at devising a program that will be able to pick those up,” said Baughen.

Some areas in B.C. are already using a program that picks up organic waste. The Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and soon the Kootenay Boundary Regional District  are communities doing residential pickup. Baughen said he has sat on one committee that has developed a program.

“It’s nice to be able to see some of the pitfalls and benefits of this program. We have a chance to see how that rolls out. Our goal within the next five years is to develop a facility that can take that material and at that time start a collection program,” said Baughen, adding that would be part of the longer-term vision, and once the management plan is approved they would take the first step of studying a location for a regional composting site.

Open houses were held in Penticton Summerland and Osoyoos this week and will continue in Keremeos on Monday at the Elks Hall, in Oliver Tuesday at the Oliver Parks and Recreation Community Hall, in Princeton on Wednesday at the Princeton and District Community Skills Centre and in Okanagan Falls on Thursday at the elementary school gymnasium.

Each open house features a series of display panels for viewing followed by a 30-minute presentation and question and answer period. The RDOS is accepting feedback on the plan, which is available at the open houses or at Feedback can be given at the meetings or by email at and will be accepted until May 24.