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?
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.
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.
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
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org