Long-delayed compost facility for Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen hits yet more red tape

Roadblock for compost spot

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen will have to look elsewhere for a new composting facility, after receiving a rejection from the Agricultural Land Commission for their preferred location.

The RDOS purchased a 32-hectare property at 1313 Greyback Road 2020, after determining it the ideal site out of several options for a long-planned organics treatment and processing plant.

But since the proposed facility would require 22.5 hectares to be excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve for non-farm use, the ALC got to have their say.

In a Nov. 4 decision, more than a year after the RDOS' initial application, the ALC panel denied the request.

"While the panel understands the applicant’s need for a composting and biosolids facility in the region and desire to site the proposed composting facility on the property, the panel must at all times be mindful of its legislated mandate," the decision reads.

"The panel finds that the property is both suitable and capable of agriculture in its current state and therefore the ALR portion of the property is an inappropriate place to build the composting facility."

The decision notes that while construction at 1313 Greyback was the cheapest option for the RDOS, they do still have the pricier option to renovate the existing facilities at nearby Cambpell Mountain landfill.

The current outdoor compost facility at Campbell Mountain is non-compliant with regulations and has historically drawn complaints from neighbours over odour. Previous studies estimate a curbside food collection program could potentially divert 26 per cent of the total waste stream.

RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell said via email Tuesday that the RDOS is now "considering its options" and "a report will be forwarded to the board of directors for their consideration."

The RDOS has been trying to find a location for the 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.

More Penticton News