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Concerns composting site plan in South Okanagan could stink

A compost site in Germany in pictured in this Wikimedia Commons photo.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Crystalclear
September 01, 2016 - 8:00 PM

PENTICTON - The regional district is moving forward with plans to develop an organics waste composting facility in the South Okanagan.

Of three potential sites being scrutinized for the facility, two are landfills, while the other is private property, the location of which is being kept secret for the time being.

Solid waste coordinator Cameron Baughen delivered a comprehensive report to the board’s Environment and Infrastructure Committe today, Sept. 1, prior to recommending the committee enter into a non-binding agreement with a private landowner to explore the possibility of locating the composting site on the property.

Baughen said staff had three potential sites in mind, including the Summerland and Oliver landfills. He would not disclose publicly the location of the private property being considered, as no formal agreement with the landowner had been reached.

Odour and transport problems loom as the biggest issue for the sites.

In his report to the board, Baughen noted the private site is the preferred location, with best transportation and lifecycle costing, but the Summerland landfill site had best odour “regime.” He noted the private site would require “strict odour control” noting homes in the vicinity could potentially be affected by odour.

Baughen recommended directors authorize a non-binding letter of intent to allow for assessment of a private property for the potential development of an organics management site, in addition to authorizing development of a public consultation strategy and budget. He said there wasn’t adequate information at this time to make a final decision, but after entering into a non-binding agreement with the private landowner, public consultation could begin, with an aim to bring a final recommendation to the board at the Dec. 15 board meeting.

West Bench Director Michael Brydon expressed an interest in “taking a step back and opening this up,” noting there were bound to be trade-offs in selecting a site that needed more research and discussion.

Okanagan Falls director Tom Siddon said more needed to be known about ventilation in the valley, noting it was sensible to locate such sites in areas where prevailing winds wouldn’t exacerbate odour.

“A number of these facilities have sprung up in the last 10 years or so in the Lower Mainland, around Langley. They create an ungodly, gut-wrenching stench,” he said, adding selection of the site “had to be done right.”

“I’m at a loss as to how much more information can be provided at this point,” Baughen said, indicating three binders containing his research to date.

Penticton director Andrew Jakubeit expressed hope the thought process on location of a composting facility was not of the same frame of mind as some residents had regarding the location of a prison in the district, noting staff had done a good job validating their recommendations.

The Environment Committee agreed to the staff recommendation. The matter is expected to return to the board on Sept. 15.

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