SUMMERLAND - District of Summerland Mayor Peter Waterman is not happy about a council decision Monday night that scuttled further exploration of a Summerland landfill for a regional district compost site.
“I don’t care which way a vote goes, but it should be done with proper investigation of the options. That motion Monday night did not allow that,” Waterman said today, Oct. 25.
Waterman was referring to an original motion on the Oct. 23 agenda to allow Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen to investigate and start a public consultation process on the suitability of the Summerland landfill as a site for a new compost facility.
Instead, Coun. Richard Barkwell’s alternative motion to deny the regional district all access without seeking further investigation carried 6-1, with only the mayor opposed.
“I think Monday night’s council decision cost this community between $5 and $7 million. As far as I’m concerned, Summerland had a strong bargaining position with the regional district with regard to this site. It’s a real shame right now,” he says.
Waterman believes the municipality could have gleaned between $5 and $7 million in much needed repairs and safety upgrades to Prairie Valley Road, all the way to the landfill. He says he would encourage staff to negotiate bike lanes on either side of the road to the landfill, in addition to adding sidewalks and improved lighting.
Two other issues Waterman believes residents were concerned about could also be mitigated, Waterman says.
He said it was completely within Summerland’s jurisdiction to control operating hours for trucks using the road to avoid excessive traffic during certain periods of the day.
The other concern - leachate from the composting facility - is already an issue with the community, as leachate from the biosolids plant is currently being dumped on bare ground 330 metres from the town’s balancing reservoir, which feeds Summerland’s water treatment plant.
“The proposed site would be 1.2 km from the reservoir, there would be no leachate going into the groundwater and no odour,” he says, adding he and several councillors visited a composting facility in Abbotsford similar to the one being proposed by the regional district.
“They are highly technical, sophisticated operations,” he says.
“By denying this and not seeking further information, we’ve denied the option to upgrade our own landfill operation with someone else paying for it, as well as a considerable upgrade of Prairie Valley Road. When I do things, I look at how we can do things, not how we can’t. We just snuffed out an opportunity for $5 to $7 million and rental payments from the regional district,” he says.
The Summerland landfill was originally considered a second choice site for the regional district’s proposed $15 million state of the art composting facility. Originally, staff suggested a site on Marron Valley Road on the Penticton Indian Band as the best choice, but strong local opposition and issues about locating on leased land eventually scuttled that option. The regional district board of directors made Summerland landfill the number one choice at the Aug. 3 board meeting.
Regional district solid waste coordinator Cameron Baughen was unable to be reached for comment about the regional district’s future options for the site.
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