PENTICTON - People who could potentially affected by the odour coming from a proposed composting facility in the South Okanagan filled the gallery at a recent Regional District committee meeting to voice their opposition.
The Regional District South Okanagan-Similkameen is looking at two sites for the compositing facility: the Marron Valley site on locatee land on the Penticton Indian Reserve and the Summerland landfill.
Regional District staff have said in the past there is an urgency to move forward with the project.
Discussions at the Environment Committee meeting, July 20, did little to provide a clear path forward for the board and may have muddied the waters as at least two directors said they were in favour of the Summerland landfill location.
Environment Committee chair Tom Siddon acknowledged the residents in the gallery, most of whom are from Marron Valley and opposed to the Marron Valley site.
Both Siddon and chief administrative officer Bill Newell expressed the need for the board to feel comfortable about choosing one site or the other in order to begin moving the project forward.
Newell said public forums on the composting site location elicited concerns largely about odour and increased traffic.
Solid waste coordinator Cameron Baughen tried to assure those present leachate and odour control were issues could be contained through the development of an above ground facility, although he did say upgraded odour treatment would be needed to control odours in cold weather.
Summerland director Peter Waterman said the facility would need to be fully enclosed and he understood that by utilizing present technology there would be no need to worry about odours. He did note transportation could be an issue, with an increase in trucks using roads through residential areas that were already in poor repair.
Waterman said a full discussion with a full understanding of technical issues was necessary.
“I don’t believe the public has a belief in those reports,” he said, calling it a “damn shame.”
The residents were bolstered by the words of Cawston director George Bush who said he would like to see the Marron Valley site taken off the table, voicing concerns about the prospect of spending $15 million for a facility “built on land we don’t control.” Bush said he was also concerned about the cost of leasing the land, based on a percentage of the project’s capital cost.
“It needs to be in our area and our jurisdiction,” he said, recommending the board select the Summerland landfill site.
Naramata director Karla Kozakavich said she had originally chosen the Marron Valley site but after further consideration was now leaning towards Summerland, although she expressed concerns about traffic issues.
Penticton director Andrew Jakubeit called the discussion one “reminiscent of the correctional centre debate” that occurred several years ago in Penticton. He said the Regional District’s next step should be a tour of an operating composting facility, calling odour the biggest concern, or perception of concern.
“We should go see for ourselves,” Jakubeit said.
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