Regional board postpones decision on Penticton Indian Band waste pile cleanup | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Regional board postpones decision on Penticton Indian Band waste pile cleanup

Too many unanswered questions remain regarding a huge pile of waste sitting on locatee land on the Penticton Indian Band for Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen regional directors to allocate taxpayers' money for cleanup, directors decided at today's board meeting, Oct. 3, 2019.
October 03, 2019 - 12:44 PM

PENTICTON - Regional district directors aren’t prepared to take on the daunting task of cleaning up tonnes of waste on the Penticton Indian reserve without knowing a lot more about the issue.

That was the conclusion of a lengthy discussion at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen boardroom this morning, Oct.3.

The directors decided to defer the issue of providing reduced or no tipping fees to the Penticton Indian Band to dispose of 5,000 tonnes of building waste left on a locatee property after the contractor, Appleton Waste Services, went bankrupt earlier this year.

Regional district CAO Bill Newell said Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas sent the district a letter asking to waive tipping fees.

"Under an odd organizational structure it's tough to decide and tough to figure out who's responsible or what they want to do with it," he told the board.

Regional district staff recommended charging the band a reduced fee of $220 per tonne to cover the estimated costs to the regional district of removing the waste, but directors felt there were too many unanswered questions and a lack of cooperation from the Penticton Indian Band to warrant a positive response at this time.

Public works manager Andrew Reeder warned the board of hazards associated with the pile of waste. He said Worksafe B.C. would be an issue as workers would be dealing with unassisted waste that could contain asbestos and other harmful substances.

Penticton Director John Vassilaki said the issue was concerning to residents of Penticton, calling the recommendation precedent-setting. He expressed concern about liability as well, insisting there be no cost cuts in any way.

Penticton Director Frank Regehr pointed out the amount of waste under discussion, at 10,000 cubic metres, would have a “really substantial” impact on the longevity of the Campbell Mountain landfill, which receives 25,000 cubic metres annually.

Liability and a lack of representation from the Penticton Indian Band was on Penticton Director Julius Bloomfield’s mind. He said a representative from the band council should have been present at this morning’s meeting, also questioning the federal government’s role in the issue.

CAO Newell said a request was put forward for a Penticton Indian Band rep that went unanswered.

Narmata Director Karla Kozakevich also expressed disappointment no band rep was present since the board was being asked to “waive $4 million in tipping fees.”

“We don’t know what arrangements were made between the contractor and locatee. I assume it was for profit, but how much he received we don’t know,” she said.

Kozakevich said the property was apparently set up as a sorting and receiving facility where the materials would be sorted and shipped to various locations. She said at one point some material was shipped to Washington State.

She suggested contacting higher levels of government for assistance. In the event the board decided to go ahead, she said the cost estimate for removing the waste should be increased to cover unforeseen expenses.

Oliver rural Director Rick Knodel asked what Ottawa would do should the board walk away from the issue. He said without full disclosure, the public may end up bearing the cost for a venture that might have been profitable for some individuals.

Keremeos Director Manfred Bauer suggested postponing the decision pending answers to questions raised, adding the locatee owner needed to be involved in discussions. The motion was accepted by a majority of the board.

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