Property previously pegged for Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen compost facility now 'toast'

Waste woes plague district

A vision for a regional composting facility on a property near Penticton's Campbell Mountain landfill is no more.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen purchased 1313 Greyback Road in 2020, determining it the ideal site out of several options for a long-planned organics treatment and processing plant.

But the 32-acre parcel was inside the Agricultural Land Reserve, and the Agricultural Land Commission rejected the RDOS' 2021 request to use it for non-farm purposes.

The RDOS tried again, but this January, the RDOS learned their one and only appeal had been rejected, leaving the site "toast" for the project, as CAO Bill Newell put it.

"We're going to bring a report in. We're going to come in [here] with the alternatives. That's what the professionals [on staff] are working on," Newell told the RDOS board at Thursday's meeting.

The hiccup has resulted in a ripple effect, holding up other waste-related projects that were waiting to fall into place once the compost facility was moving forward.

"Everything is pending. We have master plans on all of our landfills that are halfway through, we have [design and operations] plans on all of our landfills that are halfway through. We need a new access and egress at Campbell Mountain landfill, which means new scales, halfway through, because we don't know what's going to happen with our organics facility," Newell said.

It was not all bad news in the world of waste. Newell shared that the RDOS is getting closer to an operating certificate for another waste project long in the making, a biosolids project.

The RDOS has been in contravention of regulations requiring capture of gasses like methane from landfills of a certain size since 2016, and has been working to find a solution through a "bio cover," rather than a pricier method that would involve digging up the Campbell Mountain landfill, putting extraction pipes underneath, capturing the methane and flaring it off.

"It should save us $25-30 million. But it's taken [roughly] seven years," Newell said.

It has been slow progress, between working with the province on pilot projects, back-and-forth negotiations for the operating certificate, questions and answers. But the RDOS hasn't fielded any new questions recently, Newell said, so he thinks they are "almost there."

"We think we'll be right into design in 2023, which would be good."

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