Compost facility would facilitate curb side pickup

Movement on compost site

Chelsea Powrie

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen believes it has finally found a location for a regional compost and biosolids facility. 

The board Thursday voted to apply for a grant to construct an in-vessel composting plant near the Campbell Mountain Landfill. It would handle organic food/yard waste — paving the way for a curb side collection program — and the sludge from Penticton's wastewater treatment plant. 

The grant could cover up to 83 per cent of the expected $17.2-million price tag for the facility. The RDOS would be required to pay for the land, with the board authorizing purchase negotiations during a closed session earlier Thursday. 

After years of struggling to find a location for a regional compost facility, board members were overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

“When you look at communities like Nanaimo that has had this in place for years and years, it's good that we're catching up,” said Penticton Coun. Katie Robinson.

The current outdoor compost facility at Campbell Mountain is not-compliant with regulations and has drawn complaints from neighbours over odour. Previous studies estimate a curb side food collection program could potentially divert 26 per cent of the total waste stream.

"Let's face it we're growing in population and that compost material is going to be growing in volumes,” Penticton Coun. Jake Kimberley said.  "Hopefully we can educate the population to start separating garbage [from compost].”

The board also voted Thursday to request the Agricultural Land Commission to remove the lands required for the facility from the ALR.

Andrew Reeder, manager of operations, said that if all goes as expected with the ALC, they could have a grant by this fall, and six months to a year later, implementation of a curb side compost pickup program. 

The RDOS says it can save $1.7 million by purchasing new land for the facility, rather than building on the Campbell Mountain Landfill site, due to geotechnical considerations. Moving composting off the site will also free up between $11 million and $16 million worth of landfill space.

The proposed in-vessel composting method will minimize odours and leachate, something that delights Gil Szabo, who owns property adjacent to the dump. 

“It is of fundamental importance that this building is constructed immediately, with a proper barrier under the concrete slab to prevent the leachate from continuing to enter our water supply. It is also welcome news that the intent to construct this building with proper ventilation to prevent the noxious fumes from continuing to pollute neighbouring properties, and ultimately the lake,” he said in an email to Castanet.

The RDOS has been trying to find a location for such a facility for years. It initially selected a property in Marron Valley in 2017, but reversed course after outcry from neighbours and the local MLA. The District of Summerland also refused to host the facility at its own landfill later that year.

-with files from Chelsea Powrie

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