When Local Politics Get Ugly, We ALL Lose

It’s easy to get caught up in mudslinging when local politics get ugly. This is especially true when you witness a family whom you know to have the purest of intentions being dragged into a nightmare.

Today I am talking about Chris Van Hooydonk, his family and team at Backyard Farm and Artisan Culinary Concepts in Oliver.

Pre-Covid Prep for Private Event

Up front, let me state I have a couple of biases. I love good food and beverages. I love the people who create them for me to enjoy. They fascinate me. I am blown away by the sacrifices they make to become the artisans that enhance our culinary scene. I am a writer. I love to dig into their personal stories and share them with those willing to read my pieces or listen to me wax on about them. I care about the environment and strive to do a better job of stewarding it. I embrace the Slow Food movement and adopt the movement’s interconnected principles:

  • GOOD: quality, flavorsome and healthy food
  • CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment
  • FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers

Accordingly, my husband and I have become huge fans of Chef Chris, his family and entire team. I have written about Backyard Farm and raved about it through social media. I learned about how Chris got started in the culinary field, his progress from Okanagan College through exciting posts: Saucier, Holland America Line Cruises; Sous Chef, Chef Bernards Café; Saucier, Four Seasons Hotel Boston; and Executive Chef, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery. In talking with Chris, he always acknowledges his mentors and genuinely believes in the importance of being a mentor himself.

He could easily have gone the route of a celebratory chef devoting his entire being to food and beverage notoriety. Instead, he and his wife Mikkel chose to instill greater life/work balance and live a more traditional farmers’ lifestyle in raising their children.

Chris is a kind, good man and he has surrounded himself with those kinds of people. So, I am not quite sure of what went south to cause such a strange encounter with the Regional District of South Okanagan. Backyard Farm has been operating in plain sight – even if tucked off a side road on the south side of Oliver – for seven years in harmony with the intent of the Agriculture Land Commission. It has gone beyond to shine a light on the wonders of the Okanagan and given back to the community.

Like many operations amid the restrictions of the Covid pandemic, Backyard Farm suffered. Seeking solutions to bring that farming income back into balance, Backyard Farm proposed a patio that would allow seating for its private clients in keeping with the table distancing requirements. In many similar situations, local leaders have strived to assist operators rather than lose valuable assets to the community. For example, Kelowna and Penticton allowed expansion of patio areas and within proper guidelines, we can even take alcohol to the beach these days to enjoy with our takeout picnics!

When Chris complied with all protocols and RDOS staff examined his operation something went south. The staff, for some reason completely misinterpreted his business. I don’t know if worn out by the pandemic, Chris got short with the person(s). He is, after all, a chef not a diplomat.

Somehow, he got pulled into applying for a Temporary Use Permit that relates to a public eating and drinking establishment rather than confirming his agricultural holding remains in compliance. None of it makes sense to rational bystanders. Many local fans like me including Al Hudec, a lawyer, reacted to try to stress the differentiation between Backyard Farm and a public restaurant.

Commentary online at the Oliver Daily News (oliverdailynews.com) started out confrontational and evoked a barrage of reactions – some downright vile and inflammatory. At least one RDOS staff seem to have used a public forum to declare her position before allowing the Regional Board of Director the opportunity to examine all of the evidence yet to be presented at a hearing.

The malicious attack on Chris seemed so personal by this staff, it was hard not to drag the fight into the gutter. I had also been online for an information meeting in which another staff seemed quite abrupt and unable to attentively listen rather only wanted to declare her own point of view. The meeting used an older technology and folks trying to participate kept falling off line. (Made me wonder why Zoom wasn’t used when everyone has become so familiar with it through the Covid pandemic?)

It is my understanding in BC, “Board members as a whole or as a smaller sub-group participating in a service make collective decisions in the best interest of the region or communities within the region.” In properly functioning organizations, directors would not get directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the office, rather coach and provide advice. Theoretically, directors are selected to offer a broad and realistic perspective of what’s happening within the region and serve as a bridge to the community and as oversight – particularly as related to personal biases of staff.

Again, I don’t know the minute details of this situation. However, in administering the land use bylaws, standards and policies it seems the approach sometimes becomes more punitive rather than facilitative.

In fact, directors can be expected to serve as diplomats and role models for staff. In this situation where things seem to have spun out of hand along an entirely wrong route, I would hope that the Regional Board Directors have the leadership skills to hit pause and go back to the beginning.   

Backyard Farm has never been a restaurant and has no aspirations to be one. It serves a beautiful role demonstrating how we can make an agricultural lifestyle work. How do we backtrack from here? How can the RDOS directors help staff save face and do what is right?

While a phrase’s meaning may become twisted over time, I like to go back to the essence of how I learned about it in school.

Take, for example, Portia’s plea in the William Shakespeare play, The Merchant of Venice: “The quality of mercy is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven, Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”

For me, it is a reminder that showing kindness and understanding is a healthy way to approach life. It doesn’t matter what your religion and how you interpret heaven. If, in your heart, you care what’s best for the community and Mother Earth and strive to listen and fully comprehend a situation, you’ll be rewarded.

Of course, in this case I’m not talking about mercy to bend rules. That isn’t necessary if you take the time to go through Al Hudec’s legal analyses of the ALC and how it relates to Backyard Farm. Rather the mercy is suggested as an action to step back, forgive whatever little flare ups folks had in dealing with a sensitive issue and then examine the situation with clear, open minds.

Please folks, let’s wake up from this nightmare and show the quality of mercy to all involved. Let’s get this Okanagan asset out of the defense mode and back to living off the land and sharing its treasures.

Posted in Lifestyle | 8 Comments



While you could grab food on the run or get delivery before, an upside to isolating at home to reduce COVID-19 is the bar has been raised.

The bar is raised in terms of food quality and now licensed facilities can offer beverages such as BC wine and craft beer with the meal-to-go.

Restaurants have risen to the challenge to serve patrons and keep as many team members employed as possible. Offerings are elevated in many ways with increased vigilance to food safety, many waiting to ensure it could be done well.

TIME Winery & Kitchen

Take TIME Winery & Kitchen in Penticton: TIMEsavours meal kits just launched, which are partially or fully prepared three-course meals for two, ready to heat, plate and serve. These meal kits “are not just about saving time, they are about savouring the taste”. Recently, my husband and I tested them and can confirm the quality is fine dining reflective of Chef A.K. Campbell’s culinary acumen.


The kitchen at TIME Winery is open Wednesday to Saturday, with pick-up, 12 noon to 7 pm. Here, Christa-Lee McWatters and Chef A.K. Campbell distribute TIMEsavour meal kits.

TIMEsavour meal kits contain components prepared fresh in the TIME kitchen and packaged such that you can keep them in your fridge for three to five days before serving. With hot and cold components, each kit includes instructions on how to reheat and plate plus the garnishes you would expect in a fine dining experience. In most cases cold preparations are ready to eat right out of the package. Fully cooked, the hot preparations can be reheated in 6 minutes. Well-conceived, these kits will challenge you to get creative and tag @timewinery on Instagram or TIME Winery & Kitchen on Facebook to show your plating skills.

Changing weekly, kits generally contain a bread component, appetizer, entree, dessert, and an option for a paired bottle of TIME Winery or Evolve Cellars wine. Ours was themed a Mediterranean Dinner with items for a Charcuterie board; main of roasted Cornish hen with Parma ham, charred parsnip and shallot, stewed beluga lentils, lemon rosemary jus, garlic chips and preserved lemon; Tiramisu for dessert; and Time Winery Sauvignon Blanc. Priced at $90 including wine, for the two of us, the quantity was such that we had enough for two dinners for two and three dessert servings for two! Limited quantity is available.


Our Mediterranean themed TIMEsavour meal included items to build a Charcuterie board.


TIMEsavour meal of roasted Cornish hen with Parma ham, charred parsnip and shallot, stewed beluga lentils, lemon rosemary jus, garlic chips and preserved lemon paired with TIME Winery Sauvignon Blanc


With our TIMEsavour charcuterie and main meal, we found the generous dessert of Tiramisu provided us three servings each.

The kitchen is open Wednesday to Saturday, with pick-up, 12 noon to 7 pm at 361 Martin Street, Penticton. Besides TIMEsavour meal kits, a couple of the popular menu items are available for pick-up: TIME Burger with a side of TIME Fries and Skillet Mac n’ Cheese. Ordering online (encorevineyards.ca) is easy or call 1-236-422-2556.

BRODO Kitchen

It is not surprising that BRODO Kitchen, Penticton, was one of the first restaurants to adapt and respond to the challenge of physical distancing. BRODO, Italian for broth, opened May 2013 with a clear mandate to feature “locally-sourced ingredients in a variety of soups, sandwiches and salads. The menu changes seasonally to reflect what’s fresh from the harvest.” Chef Paul Cecconi had a vision of serving “simply fresh food in the heart of downtown” appealing to a wide audience.


Chef/Owner Paul Cecconi serves customers from Brodo Kitchen’s new takeout window.

From the beginning with its limited seating, BRODO facilitated dash in and out quick orders and established a strong catering business. Facing Main Street with opening windows intended to reap the benefits of warmer weather days, the space was quickly reconfigured to a takeout window ensuring proper social distancing protocol.


Brodo Kitchen offers takeout through its new window on Main Street, Penticton.

In addition to its regular menu, there are daily specials and a Friday “date night Brodo at home” selection. The wine pairing for date night is in partnership with Township 7 Winery. Order by noon Thursday for Friday afternoon pickup. We recently enjoyed the Crispy Buttermilk and Thyme Fried Chicken date night served with Siracha Aioli; Creamed Corn; and Blistered Bell Pepper and Brodo Pickle Potato Salad.


Date night selections from Brodo Kitchen offer wine pairings in partnership with Township 7 Winery. Here we paired Chardonnay with Crispy Chicken.

We also scored the Coconut and Cardamom Carrot Soup, a tasty example of why Chef Paul and his team win so many soup-making competitions! See tastebrodo.com or follow Taste BRODO social media.


Coconut and Cardamom Carrot Soup, delicious takeout available from Brodo Kitchen

Limited Scale at Front Street Brasserie

A hole-in-the-wall size, Penticton’s Front Street Brasserie is huge in the hearts of fans of French-style dining. Owned and operated by husband and wife, John Burke and Lisa Baxter-Burke with their long-time friend/co-conspirator, Kathy Malone, Front Street Brasserie is a casual space with a relaxed pace.

It has closed temporarily during the health crisis although you can support it through the purchase of gift certificates and by making future bookings to enjoy once the doors opened and the patio seats set out once more. If you are like many of its fans and just can’t wait, options are available to book a private lunch or dinner function by calling 1-236-422-2008 to discuss possibilities. frontstreetbrasserie.com/

We participated in a limited delivery service from Front Street Brasserie for dinner-for-two (15 packages only) that you order, pay for online and have delivered to your home within the immediate region.


Delivery of dinner for two to your door from Front Street Brasserie, Penticton.

We enjoyed Crushed Potato Tarte with Double Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Onion Mushroom Duxelles, topped with Aged Gouda and Mozzarella. It was served with Spiced Charred Scallion Crème and Caraway-Dried Cranberry-Cabbage Slaw. You can also select to purchase a recommended wine to pair with the meal.


Delicious dinner from Front Street Brasserie to reheat, assemble and eat at home featured Crushed Potato Tarte with Double Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Onion Mushroom Duxelles, topped with Aged Gouda and Mozzarella.

Exploring Options and Supporting Hospitality

We were content initially to dust off our cookbooks to create family favourites and then experiment with new recipes while physically distancing at home. Still, there comes a moment in every cook’s life when having food prepared by someone else is golden. Three great options, we thank these Penticton restaurants and because of them look forward to exploring more.

The BC Restaurant and Food Services Association (BCRFA) is “a collective group of restaurant professionals devoted to the sole purpose of creating the most favourable business environment” for members. With more than 40 years’ experience and representing over 3,000 members, the BCRFA is on the front line throughout the current crisis.

Check out BCRFA, local tourism and hospitality groups, and your favourite restaurants to view websites and social media to see what culinary adventures await.

The hospitality industry is in financial crisis due to this pandemic. Support the industry, if you can, through takeout and delivery, gift certificates, and donations to food banks and the BC Hospitality Foundation (bchospitalityfoundation.com).


Petrasek Bakery on Main Street in Penticton has limited hours and prefers pre-ordering. Still, it offers so many delicious options.

FOOTNOTE: Originally destined last week for another media outlet, this article is a fit with my blog so I’m happy to post it here. Sadly though, the fact the other outlet could not accept it right now is a sign of the times. Publications are struggling to continue given the pressure of reduced advertising revenue and consequently running with a skeleton team.

Posted in BC Wineries, Food, Lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Act Now to Influence Positive Change: Save Agricultural Land and ReThink the Campbell Mountain Landfill

From Munson Mountain parking lot looking toward Campbell Mountain Landfill it all looks quite benign until you take a closer look and realize the extent of agricultural land below

The opportunity to reflect upon our actions as a community presents itself more strongly as many of us find ourselves spending more time at home these days. Let’s put a pause, too, on actions that are not in the best interest of our health today nor for the future.

What You Can Do

• Join the conversation to discover better solutions (Be sure to read and react to the Act Now section at the bottom of this post.)
• Sign a petition to preserve ALR for agricultural use (Sign the petition)
• Share this news with your friends and contacts
• Promote a healthier and sustainable view for the Okanagan
• Elect representatives brave enough to be visionaries

Please hear me out. The Campbell Mountain Landfill and the recent steps by the RDOS to expand it are ill advised and short sighted. My previous post Above Naramata Bench Lies the (RDOS) Region’s Dirty Little (Not So) Secret outlined concerns about our region’s approach to the landfill.

Since then, I attended the January 2020 RDOS (Regional District Okanagan Similkameen) meeting relevant to the topic with a neighbour. We attended knowing fully well it was an exercise in futility. What was interesting was to see how they positioned it.

Signed, sealed, delivered

It was apparent that the closed meeting held earlier solidified the angle the RDOS directors would spin. There was absolutely no larger discussion of the blight that the landfill places on the region’s current landscape and future livelihood.

Directors spoke in favour viewing it as wonderful to get organics recycling going in the region. They were thrilled it was the least expensive route. They were congratulating each other as if it was an honourable approach being taken.

There was no mention that human waste from the waste treatment centre is in the equation – it was as if they were only looking at household organic recycling.

Also, they are totally sold on the idea that “in vessel” mitigates the odours entirely. Apparently, they’ve never driven by “stinky truck” from waste management where the waste is contained “in vessel”.

Impact is far-reaching

Clearly, directors were viewing the situation as a NIMBY problem of the immediately adjacent neighbourhood. Either they just don’t comprehend the broader impact or they’ve chosen to put their success in the next election ahead of it. While I was there for the meeting, a young man I know who works for the RDOS made the comment that I must be particularly disappointed living in the area above the landfill.

His reaction shocked me and I didn’t know quite what to say. Here was a family man with a couple of small children with at least a portion of his livelihood dependent on the ongoing economic health of the region. I realize many folks don’t care about a legacy for future generations. However, such an attitude was mindboggling from a man with children.

What’s new and upsetting

The RDOS proceeded to get permission to buy a ranch adjacent to Campbell Mountain Landfill and if purchased, are pursuing building a Regional Composting Facility on site. The ranch is in the agricultural land reserve (ALR)and historically a cattle ranch. This use flies in the face of preserving our limited ALR.

With little to no advance public warning, the RDOS erected a sign up the entrance to the property, 1313 Greyback Mountain Road, as a Notice of Exclusion Application Regarding Land in the Agricultural Land Reserve. It states that comments in writing must be made by April 3, 2020. Is it just me or does that timeframe seem rather unreasonable especially in the middle of a pandemic?

Quietly and quickly, the RDOS erected a sign up the entrance to the property, 1313 Greyback Mountain Road, as a Notice of Exclusion Application Regarding Land in the Agricultural Land Reserve, with a tight deadline to respond by April 3, 2020 amid COVID-19 isolating at home initiatives

From above, the ranch that the RDOS is looking to purchase. A former cattle ranch, it is also an active BC wildlife corridor

Thin edge of the wedge, slippery slope?

To discover this land is being eyed for purchase in anticipation of expanding the landfill real estate and the notice placed so quickly and quietly sets off all kinds of alarms. It’s as if the RDOS has a pre-agreement in place with those folks who should be protecting our ALR at all costs.

Given it is intended to serve the entire RDOS region from Peachland to Manning Park to Anarchist Mountain to the US/Canada border, one wonders why here? Why are the staff and directors not exploring decommissioned mines and other blighted sites where the land is already desecrated?

If even a small portion of this ranch is taken out of the ALR for this usage, it’s safe to predict it is just the “thin edge of the wedge”. Once the ranch is officially part of the landfill soon other operations from it will drift over to that site. Soon folks driving up Spiller Road, will be driving through the middle of a landfill and not just skirting it.

Speaking of “slippery slope”, where do folks think leaching from the landfill is most likely to travel? It’s not going to leach uphill to my house. It’s going to head downhill to all that ALR land below. You know, along the famous wine region, the Naramata Bench, seeping into vineyards such as La Frenz Winery, Three Sisters Winery, Da Silva Vineyards and Winery, Township 7 Winery, Little Engine Winery, Maple Leaf Spirits, Red Rooster Winery, Ruby Blues Winery, and countless others. Remember there are wineries outside the region that source grapes from Naramata Bench. Then there’s what little is left of our precious orchard industry.

All landfills leak: Read this blog by the Conservation Law Foundation: https://www.clf.org/blog/all-landfills-leak-and-our-health-and-environment-pay-the-toxic-price/

Just one example of what can happen is the house just below the entrance to the landfill which got caught in a slide of materials from the site. It was so damaged the former owners couldn’t sell the property through normal channels and the City/RDOS eventually bought the property. That move was no doubt a big relief to the owners while it remains a sad reminder of the risks below the landfill.

Mount EverRust

Then, there’s compression and compaction. Recently, the Penticton Herald carried a story on how wonderful it is that the RDOS developed biocover as a unique solution to landfill gas: http://www.pentictonherald.ca/news/article_874b5c9c-6fb5-11ea-87ce-2b2aedf77300.html

When you stack weight on top of something it compresses and any moisture within the base must find some place to escape. While landfills attempt to capture leachate in tailing ponds and treat it before releasing it, there’s a percentage of loss. As we watch Mount EverRust rise continually more in sight from the valley below at Campbell Mountain, there’s little doubt that the weight is squeezing toxins out of what’s below.

Mount EverRust rises at Campbell Mountain Landfill looming into sight in our Penticton region tourism corridor

In addition to leaching out, some of those noxious materials will evaporate and release into the air. Plus, the toxins are carried farther afield by insects, birds and other wildlife. So, if you think it’s just the immediate area that is being desecrated by stretching out the life of this landfill, think again.

Like a virus, out of sight, out of mind?

It’s no longer a dirty little secret for residents. Penticton, Naramata and region, visitors witness the growing mound of rubbish. If locals didn’t value tourism before, perhaps the rollback of our economy given the COVID-19 virus and all the event cancellations as a result might be a wakeup call.

It is time for RDOS directors, the ALR and other decision-making bodies to act for the greater good. It has been 48 years of piling up the trash at Campbell Mountain Landfill, it’s time to set the clock for the minimum of 50 years it’ll take to get close to remediating this precious view property.

Rather than compounding the problem, Campbell Mountain Landfill needs to be isolated in place not expanded upon. This is about keeping our area healthy now not just for future generations.

Expand the Trails not the Trash

The RDOS needs to be creative and lead the charge to compel residents and visitors to reduce, reuse, and recycle. It’s time to turn the tactics to brownfield reclamation here and finding a more suitable and less damaging site for the region’s waste. Brenda Mines hasn’t been operational for years. Could that or another already damaged location far from the orchards, vineyards and citizens be a potential option?

Oh, and about that ranch the RDOS is interested in purchasing, how about some community agricultural project? Or perhaps a wildlife reserve we could hike? There’s a head start with that parking lot and pedestrian crossing already installed.

Hope rings eternal: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/federal-contaminated-sites/success-stories.html

Act Now

My neighbour Jacquie Jackson has taken the initiative to coordinate a campaign to the ALR and to ensure the RDOS hears community input. Copied here is her urgent email of March 28, 2020 asking for your immediate response for the April 3, 2020 deadline.

Please join us! Respond to jacquiej62@gmail.com

ACT NOW PLEASE and forward me your opposition to the RDOS removing 1313 Greyback Mountain Road from the ALR.

Here are some things that may not have been realized:

1. The RDOS wants to install a Regional Composting Facility on 80 acres at 1313 Greyback Mtn Rd making this a very large industrial site. Prior to now, this has been a cattle ranch;
2. This Regional Composting Facility will consist of Biosolids which is organic matter recycled from sewage;
3. The facility is to be an “in-vessel” facility which WILL impact atmospheric air quality, water and soil;
4. The soil at 1313 Greyback Mtn Rd is sandy and therefore predisposed to harmful leachate problems;
5. This area is comprised of fractured bedrock so any leachate will contaminate runoff, can pollute water wells in the area, and can pollute the City of Penticton Water Reservoir (Penticton Creek);
6. There are several properties below the Landfill that are already contaminated;
7. This facility would serve the entire RDOS region, from Peachland to Manning Park to Anarchist Mountain to the US/Canada Border;
8. The trucks that currently bring Biosolids to the Landfill are “in-vessel” trucks that consistently leak sewage sludge onto the roadway and are extremely smelly;
9. There will be an excessive increase in the amount of large heavy truck traffic on Reservoir Road due to the huge Region this facility will service. The trucks may operate on off-peak hours due to traffic congestion;
10. This facility will be operational 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, 365 days/year due to the biosolids material having to be continually heated, mixed and disbursed;
11. A large amount of carbonaceous material will be stored and used at the facility which creates the potential for fires in the storage areas as well as in the active composting mass;
12. Residents above the Landfill have no other roadway access and will be forced to drive through the dump with the Landfill on the West and the Biosolids Facility on the East. The Canadian Horizons subdivision that is proposed north of the Landfill is encountering difficulties getting road access up to Spiller Road;
13. The RDOS has advised that the current Landfill and this facility will share the weigh scale. This means that truck traffic would cross Spiller Road, going to and from the Biosolids Facility;
14. There will be additional noise from trucking, mixing the biosolids with heavy equipment, exhaust fans, product curing, optional screening and/or bagging with heavy equipment;
15. As the current Landfill is not meeting the provincial guidelines, how can we be assured that this Biosolids Facility will conform to present and future air quality, water, noise and soil requirements?;
16. Eight (8) properties are directly affected by sight lines to this proposed facility and many more will be affected by the odours and noise generated by this huge facility;
17. Property values are sure to be decreased.

It is interesting to note that:

1. The RDOS had been withholding the location of the proposed Biosolids Facility until now;
2. The RDOS has been classifying 1313 Greyback Mtn Rd as a “nuisance” property. How can this be as it only had an agricultural operation on it?;
3. The RDOS makes no mention that this Regional Composting Facility will be made up of Biosolids (sewage waste);
4. The RDOS did not post notices in the newspapers until inquiries were sent to our Area E Director Karla Kozakevich and the Agricultural Land Commission. A notice appeared in The Penticton Western Newspaper on March 26, 2020;
5. When advised by Karla Kozakevich to get more information from Andrew Reeder, Manager of Operations for the RDOS, an email was sent to him on March 20, 2020 but to date Mr. Reeder has not responded.

If we can stop the RDOS from taking 1313 Greyback out of the Agricultural Land Reserve we have a chance at stopping this Biosolids Facility from being put in this fragile agricultural location.


Please join us! Respond to jacquiej62@gmail.com

Viewing the Campbell Mountain Landfill from above demonstrates the issue goes beyond the immediate neighbourhood to Naramata Bench, Penticton and beyond

Sign the petition:



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Above Naramata Bench Lies the (RDOS) Region’s Dirty Little (Not So) Secret

Campbell Mountain Landfill looms above Naramata Bench, one of the world’s most beautiful wine regions, and rather than relocating it, officials are discussing expanding it.

Back in 1972 when it opened, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) might have been forgiven for thinking it was tucked away out of sight. Today, as the mountain of trash – I nickname Mount EverRust – stacks higher and higher, it is in plain vision from Naramata Road and beyond.

How much it has grown was driven home to us when a friend who hadn’t visited us in the Okanagan for two years, noticed it immediately as we drove by. His words, if I recall correctly, were “Holy Crap, that’s a mountain now. When will it landslide down on to the wineries below?”

We live above this abomination and must pass it every time we go down the hill. When we bought our land in 2001, the word was it was slated to be closing. Soon after our purchase, we read the disturbing news in the Penticton Herald, officials felt it had another 50 years!

Clearly our concerns relate to our vested interest in the area. Of course, it hurts our land value and more importantly our quality of life.

Health At Risk

“Living near a landfill could damage your health: Health is at risk for those who live within five kilometers of a landfill site” was a finding in a Science Daily article. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160524211817.htm

Lest you put down our objections as NIMBY*, let me assure you the impact of this landfill is far broader. (*NIMBY is that acronym for “Not in My Back Yard” looked as a phenomenon of people just not wanting bad things to occur in their local area.)


First of all, it is an outdated design. For example, it is an unlined landfill. The RDOS has worked with consultants on several factors such as drainage prevention and leachate control. Contaminated ground water has left the Campbell Mountain property. A leachate capture system and drainage diversion was designed. Yet, all of us who took any basic science at all or watched a waterfall know water flows downhill.


What’s downhill from the landfill? Yes, agricultural land reserve (ALR) populated mostly with vineyards and wineries now and still a few orchards and gardens. Seriously, do you think that leachate isn’t impacting the quality of that soil? And we haven’t even touched on the airborne pollutants.

There’s an amazing initiative in the Okanagan championed by Summerhill Pyramid Winery organicokanagan.com with declarations including “the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada is an ideal agricultural and residential region to demonstrate a model of returning to living in harmony with nature, thereby creating A DIAMOND ON OUR EMERALD PLANET!”

The leadership decisions we witness coming from those responsible at the Campbell Mountain Landfill definitely aren’t in concert with that philosophy. In fact, at an Open House about it held by the RDOS on April 24, 2017, one of the principle male staff was quick to point out that he wasn’t even born in 1972 when the landfill opened as if that excused not taking action to do something about its dire condition.

For a long time, rather than writing anything about this issue I just stewed. I thought if I can’t come up with practical solutions maybe it’s best if I keep my mouth shut. Then I remembered in my last full-time job as a communications strategist in Environmental and Safety Management at The City of Calgary, I worked tirelessly to find better ways of doing things. Our team was charged with that responsibility as paid employees.

RDOS, It’s Your Job to Get Creative

So rather than do the RDOS job, let me just share my concerns and some observations. It is time that the RDOS and the City of Penticton, a partner in the landfill change the way they perceive and manage the outdated site. The community must be engaged in their decisions, resources must be leveraged and partnerships with other agencies pursued.

Without consultation, biosolids from the Penticton Wastewater Treatment Plant in addition to the food and yard waste have been processed outdoors. RDOS may have slipped this process in, however, the stench has given it away and complaints from the neighbourhood have increased. We’re not just talking neighbours on Spiller Road rather along Naramata Bench and up in the Okanagan Highlands. When we moved on to our property in 2009, we rarely noticed smells from the landfill. For the last two years, there are days it takes your breath away kilometres away.

Now the RDOS is talking about buying an ALR parcel of land adjacent to the Campbell Mountain Landfill to build a new and indoors organics and biosolids waste composting facility to minimize odours. Note the use of the word “minimize”.

It’s also not that reassuring that the Penticton Herald article stated, “Reeder is urging directors to act quickly, because the Agricultural Land Commission as of Jan. 30 is tightening up its rules surrounding exclusion applications, which could be “problematic” for the RDOS if it applies for non-farm-use status for the site after that date.”

Bad for Okanagan Soil

Basically, the RDOS is recommending rushing this through because it is a bad idea for the health of our agriculture land. Yikes!

In a report for the 2015 International Year of Soils, https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC98077/lbna27530enn.pdfsome quotes were given in the preamble to set the tone for how important some of the findings were:

  • This land was the best in the world, but in comparison of what then was, there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body. All the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land being left. – Plato, 360 b.c.
  • The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • When soil becomes sicker, so too do the people who rely on it. – This week Editorials. Nature, Vol 517, 22, January 2015

By the way, in that same document are some remarkable case studies for remediation of brownfield sites like landfills. It reported on the process in Kölliken, Switzerland of the complete dismantling of a hazardous waste landfill in a residential area.

Theft of View Property

The views alone from the Campbell Mountain are a compelling reason it should be closed – perhaps mined for valuable metals and antique recyclables buried underneath – and definitely remediated. The region is missing a world-class golf course designed with the latest in environmental considerations. Imagine the draw of walking paths, biking trails, ornamental gardens and a golf course with that vista!

The same RDOS staffer who said he wasn’t born when the landfill opened also responded to me when I talked of remediation, that it would take at least 50 years. Given my previous job the 50 years didn’t alarm me. It was the fact that he thought that reason enough not to do it. My thoughts were then we must start the process immediately!

Tourism Matters

The importance of tourism to local economy is becoming increasingly apparent and tourism organizations across the world are lauding the benefits of culinary tourism. Isn’t it a bit ironic our RDOS leaders are okay with extending the time that this blight is on our landscape in view of world-class wineries?

I’m not sure why all of the wineries in Penticton and Naramata aren’t lobbying to get this eyesore cured. Second thought add the Summerland wineries because that mountain of trash can be seen from their terraces.

Another irony for me is that a parking lot was created at the intersection of Spiller Road and Greyback Mountain Road for all the hikers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts who use the Campbell Mountain trails. Wouldn’t you think these health enthusiasts would take exception to that despicable landfill in their environment?


Do It for Wildlife

Landfills are not healthy environments for wildlife either. It changes their natural eating and hunting practices and robs them of wildlife corridors to roam freely.

Economic Development

Penticton and region has not grown so quickly as some of its sister cities in the Okanagan. Still, those responsible for economic development really need to have a long-term vision with a big picture perspective.

Not closing this landfill site and beginning remediation devalues all the adjacent area to it. In close proximity, there are stalled developments with spectacular vistas. Why would leaders put another barrier in the way of developers considering such parcels?

Acting is expensive. Not doing something about it is even more expensive in the long run.

Options to Explore

There is a good deal of research suggesting that abandoned mines, which are typically outside the active community, can make good landfill sites.

“From the analysis of twelve landfill sites, it was determined that, under the proper conditions, modern landfill design techniques make it possible to locate a solid waste landfill in a formerly mined area with no increased risk of environmental contamination. Landfills have been successfully constructed in limestone quarries, surface coal mines, an open pit iron ore mine, and in a clay pit.” http://pdf.library.laurentian.ca/medb/conf/Sudbury95/MiningSociety/MS1.PDF

Yes, transportation of refuse could increase. Wouldn’t it be worth it to have a better solution? Such expense could be mitigated by looking at vehicles run with biofuels, electric or other innovations.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

No one is kidding anyone. The real problem is our over consumption. Of course, we all need to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

A National Geographic article busted us with an article Canada’s dirty secret that stated: “Canada leads the developed world in per capita production of garbage. What’s behind our nation’s wasteful ways?”

If you still thinking I’m just being NIMBY, when those trucks travel from Penticton and region with those biosolids and other waste, whose house do you think they’re passing by to get to the dump? You don’t think there’ll be any smells and spills?

Oops, I said the “dump” word, which it seems to be again. At first, I thought the RDOS was running the Campbell Mountain site as a landfill with an end date in mind. Now it seems unable to find alternatives and just continues to top up a dump. It doesn’t even care if it takes up ALR land to do it!

Benefits of Brownfield Reclamation

A report on brownfield clean up noted: “Parks, playgrounds, trails, community gardens, natural habitats and open land can provide aesthetic, recreational and quality-of-life advantages that complement or even surpass economic benefits. With effective planning, brownfields can be converted into open greenspaces to benefit human health and the environment

Once cleaned up, these areas are safe for kids, animals and adults, and they offer benefits such as promoting healthy communities through active recreation, restoring habitats and providing environmental education. Open space also can increase neighboring property values.”


It pointed out such benefits as:

  • “Health: Removal or reduction of exposure to contamination; Increased access to open space; Active recreational opportunities.
  • Environmental: Habitat and ecosystem restoration; Improved land and water quality; Reduced heat island effects; Reduced greenhouse gas emissions; More sustainable environment.
  • Social: Improved aesthetics; Creation of public space; Provision of trails, art and amenities; Environmental education opportunities; Improved neighborhoods; More vibrant, livable communities; Enhanced quality of life ; Addressing of environmental justice issues.
  • Economic: Job creation; Increased transportation options; Improved property values; Spurred economic development.”

Seems pretty compelling to me. What are your thoughts and ideas for an improved plan?

RDOS Meeting Today

Today, RDOS will meet behind closed doors to make some decisions such as purchasing the land for the expanded facility. Even if they take that step, it’s not too late to rethink how that land could be used to enhance our region.

There is an RDOS Board meeting in the afternoon at 2:15 to 4:30 pm, 101 Martin Street. Our neighbourhood was informed the public can attend in the gallery although it would not be an interactive meeting and parking in the area could be an issue.

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Great Kitchen Party Competition in Kelowna: Taste the Talent

Canada’s Great Kitchen Party hits Kelowna November 15 — with all the ingredients for gastronomic dreams of foodies. You can experience the sights, scents, tastes and textures firsthand of an esteemed competition.

This regional qualifying match for the Canadian Culinary Championships to be held February 2020 in Ottawa, brings together some of the Okanagan’s most talented chefs:
• Brock Bowes, CrAsian Food Concepts
• Chris Braun, RauDZ Regional Table
• Andrea Callan, Red Fox Club at Indigenous World Winery
• James Holmes, Salt & Brick
• Kai Koroll, BLOCK ONE at 50th Parallel Estate Winery
• Jeff Van Geest, Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek
• Rob Walker, Big White Ski Resort

I am privileged to know all of these chefs and lucky enough to experience their culinary acumen on several occasions. I am confident that the bar is set so high by each of them individually of what they’ll bring to the table, it’ll be a privilege to see it unfold in person. To me, it beats being a couch potato watching competitions on television or online of chefs I may never get the opportunity to check out in their own restaurant environments.

If still available, an individual ticket ($300.00) is a splurge. Still, it’s less expensive than a Michelin-Star paired experience and showcases broader talent. Where else can you get front row seats to such a high level of competition and entertainment with access to the amazing cuisine and music all in support of great causes. In this event, the city unites “to provide Canadian youth the opportunity to be extraordinary in sport, music and food”.

Plus, it offers students in the Culinary program of Okanagan College an unparalleled opportunity to learn from of the country’s premier chefs.

Okanagan College culinary students assist at Canadian Culinary Championships

The toughest test for ticket holders will be which chef to root for most and how to pace consumption to truly taste the last dish as precisely as the first. Expect exquisitely conceived and executed elevated cuisine.

Another unique benefit of attending is the music with the opportunity to listen to such fabulous performers in an intimate setting. Musicians include the highly gifted roster of Jim Cuddy, Neil Osborne, Anne Lindsay, Devin Cuddy and Sam Polley.

Emcee for Kelowna is the Okanagan’s own outstanding athlete Kelsey Serwa. Co-Chairs are Daniel Bibby, Tracy Clark and Renee Wasylyk. Judy Burns is Honorary Co-Chair with Harry McWatters, who passed away suddenly this year and is sadly missed. No doubt his legacy will be highlighted at the event.

Harry McWatters was always on hand to support the Canadian Culinary Championships. Shown here with his partner Lisa Lalonde

For a tribute by David Lawrason, read https://www.winealign.com/articles/2019/07/25/in-fond-memory-of-harry-mcwatters/.

My own tribute can be found at https://gonzookanagan.com/harry-mcwatters-gonebeforehistime-not-before-his-time-winery/.

Based on the National Judging criteria, Kelowna judges: James Chatto, Chef Bernard Cassavant, Judy Burns, Jennifer Schell, Chef Mark Filatow and Chef Jeremy Lyupen will be rating each dish and beverage pairing. It’s always fun to see how your personal favourites compare to the judges’ decision.

Added to the excitement, are some exceptional auction opportunities such as exclusive trips.

Held in the beautiful conference facilities at Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort. For more information and access to purchase tickets or sponsorship, see https://greatkitchenparty.com/ca/cities/kelowna/

Last year’s Canadian Culinary Championships were held in Kelowna and you can check out my account of it here: https://gonzookanagan.com/best-chef-best-wine/

Presentations at culinary competitions are truly exquisite

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