By AMANDA SHORT
Special to OsoyoosToday
Local officials have been overwhelmed by public feedback — most of it negative — on two proposed sites for a regional composting facility.
Two sites have been proposed by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen: 2760 Marron Valley Rd., which is owned by a locatee member of the Penticton Indian Band, and at the District of Summerland landfill.
A smaller windrow operation is also being considered for Oliver to collect food scraps from teh South Okanagan.
Written feedback was provided following consultations in Summerland and Kaleden in May, and also mailed directly to the Regional District office. It was presented in a 157-page package June 15 to a committee of the RDOS board.
Some directors admitted they hadn’t found time to read through the messages and asked staff to condense the material and bring in back July 6.
“We want to do it the right way,” said committee chairman Tom Siddon, director for Area D (Kaleden/Okanagan Falls).
Odours from the Marron Valley site could affect up to 31 nearby homes and would require construction of a truck scale there, but its location within one kilometre of Hwy. 3A would save on transportation costs and therefore results in lower greenhouse gas emissions, according to a staff report that was presented to the board in February.
Odour is not expected to be a concern at the Summerland site, which already has a scale, but trucking loads there would cost up to $93,000 more per year and produce upwards of 20 tonnes of greenhouse gases, the report continues.
But it’s clear from the package of public feedback that people are nonetheless concerned with those issues – and many more.
Marron Valley residents Ken and Bev Lintott said efforts to sell the property they bought 35 years ago on Bobcat Road have been met with frustration.
“All those years of work and planning have come to a screaming halt. Nobody is willing to purchase a home when it will be perhaps five to 10 years to determine the actual effects that the composting site will have on the community, the ground water and environment,” their letter reads.
Summerland residents say the increase in truck traffic in addition to what is already coming and going from the landfill will have an impact on tourism, their quality of life and Prairie Valley Road.
“Prairie Valley Road already needs substantial investment which is increased by the addition of more heavy truck traffic,” reads a letter from Derek Beaton of Summerland.
Twenty-five “trucks a day travelling up Prairie Valley Road continuing bio waste not only adds to the noise pollution and wear on roads but passes through a dense populated corridor,” says another handwritten note from the Summerland consultation.
The package also includes a letter from a local remote-controlled airplane club, a comment that the committee should “add a wall and bill Mexico,” and a 39-slide PowerPoint presentation created by a concerned 14-year-old resident.
Most of the material was received by June 1. The summary package will include new material as it comes in, too.
“I don’t think the influx of responses has stopped yet. As new ones come in we’ll make sure the board gets those as well,” said chief administrative officer Bill Newell.
“So you may get more than two pages (of summary) but the intent is to at least give you time to read them before we get into a discussion.”
Mr. Newell said the project isn’t far enough along to consider finances just yet.
“There is information but not enough for refined estimates,” he said. “We will not receive a recommendation at the next meeting to use a particular site. That may not be comforting to some people worried about real estate values but this process has got to be conducted
publically and openly, we’ve got to do it right.”
Area F (Naramata) director Karla Kozakevich suggested the board tour the sites together “so that we’re physically looking at the right spot.
“We’ve all seen mapping but that’s not the same as being out there in person.”
In early May, Cameron Baughen, the Regional District’s Solid Waste Management Coordinator, told Osoyoos Council their community was not considered a good choice for the windrow operation.
“We found that the Osoyoos landfill has the Desert Centre (nearby), has million dollar homes along the lake and even though feasibility studies show potential there’s less risk at the Oliver landfill,” he explained, adding that odour was a strong consideration in where the facility would be placed.