By Amanda Short
Special to OsoyoosToday
Truckloads of public feedback were compressed Thursday for local officials, who are still deciding whether to put a new regional compost facility in Marron Valley or at the Summerland landfill.
Directors on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen were overwhelmed by 157 pages of public feedback — most of it negative — at their June 4 meeting.
The feedback was provided following consultations in Summerland and Kaleden in May, and also mailed directly to the Regional District office.
Directors subsequently ordered a condensed version from solid waste co-ordinator Cameron Baughen, whose presentation Thursday also served to help clarify the public’s stance and some of the misconceptions that came forward.
“When we look at these two sites, financially they’re fairly similar,” Mr. Baughen noted. “But there are different issues for each site.”
Summerland has an existing truck scale that would cost $2 per tonne to run at Marron Valley. But a longer distance to Summerland means the transportation cost would be about $2 per tonne higher.
Mr. Baughen also noted Summerland would allow the RDOS to co-locate the compost with an existing facility and reduce the impact of odours on neighbours, but residents are concerned about adding more truck traffic to busy Prairie Valley Road, which runs through residential areas and two school zones.
He later clarified what he meant when he stated at public consultations that 20 to 25 trucks per day could be going to the landfill and compost site.
“We assume the worst-case scenario means that they would be using the facility all on the same day,” Mr. Baughen explained.
Summerland Mayor Peter Waterman echoed the sentiments of residents.
“What concerns me is not the total, but the number of vehicles that this adds to the existing number,” he said.
“There’s a whole different picture painted when you think about it in those measures.”
The exact number of trucks removing finished compost has not yet been estimated, and Mr. Baughen said an alternative route could be considered.
He added that one recurring, but inaccurate, detail in public responses was concern about smells emanating from a poorly managed “open pit.”
“We’re looking at some of the best technologies in British Columbia, including a membrane cover,” Mr. Baughen said.
“Our big focus of this whole project is to look at the best potential sites – or in some cases the least-worst potential sites – making sure we have the right technology on site and that it can handle the volume of materials.”
The committee meets again July 20 to discuss the content of Mr. Baughen’s report.