Compost plan in shambles

The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen is back to square one for plans to build a regional compost and biosolids facility, and a 45-minute discussion on Thursday showed board members aren't anywhere near agreeing on what should be done next.

Four options were included in a report from RDOS staff for where the compost plant could go — including the Oliver landfill, the Senkulmen Business Park in the Osoyoos Indian Band, the Campbell Mountain landfill in Penticton and the Penticton Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant.

All four options, however, either are too small or are not financially viable, according to RDOS staff.

Locations in Summerland and Marron Valley, considered better fits for the facility, were both rejected in 2017 as potential sites. 

"Staff is at a loss in how to proceed," Cameron Baughen said, solid waste management coordinator for the RDOS.

"We've spent seven years. We've done two expressions of interest for private sector properties. We've looked at every public sector property that we currently have as an option. We've also done request for proposals, including working with realtors to find property."

RDOS chair Karla Kozakevich asked if staff could reach out to Chief Chad Eneas and Penticton Indian Band, as council was overhauled in November.

"That's certainly an option that we can consider," Janine Dougall said, RDOS public works manager.

Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff mentioned that it might be more palatable to have two smaller facilities rather than one big one, but RDOS staff pointed out costs of capital and infrastructure as barriers for doing that.

Area D director Tom Siddon added that the board should look into hiring a consultant for feedback on what steps to take next.

"Every single site is going to create opposition, every single site. It's not just a matter at looking at one more site," Area F director Michael Brydon said. 

He added that the RDOS should look into Summerland and Marron Valley as options once again.

"If we don't, we're going to be stuck with a terrible decision... Yes, there'll be screaming and public opposition every step of the way regardless of the site. We need to get over that and make a decision that's good for the long term."

A motion was made by Penticton Coun. Helena Konanz to re-engage in the options of Marron Valley or Summerland for the facility, which was left on the floor.

"The way we're doing it right now, it's just going to be a furious onslaught of resistance for both those areas," Summerland Mayor Peter Waterman said.

"If I were these people who live in these two areas, I would be doing cartwheels right now. I would feel like I had such leverage to ask for the moon right now," Konanz responded.  

With a full agenda still ahead on Thursday, board members eventually voted to defer compost discussions until the next board meeting on Jan. 18.


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