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First of all, it is an outdated design.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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Help Sate Hunger at The Fork and Spoon Gala 2018 Kelowna


A simple breakfast, many of us take for granted, is a luxury for some.

This Saturday, October 13, 2018, in Kelowna, I’m excited to attend as nine local chefs convene to cook at The Fork and Spoon Gala in support of the Central Okanagan Food Bank (COFB). Event organizer Cody Pollard of Fermented Dining was motivated to present this fundraising opportunity by his belief that no one should have to go hungry.

Says Pollard, “As a member of the Okanagan Chefs Association, I try to support as many initiatives as I can that ensure people have no need to choose between other expenses and food. We all need to eat to survive plus food is delicious. In this case, I decided to step up and plan a fun and creative event to directly align with the food bank’s mission.”

Nine talented chefs from around the Okanagan and the Okanagan Chefs Association have rallied around the cause to present nine courses with local wines, entertainment and a silent auction.

The special twist on this nine-course tasting menu is that our creative chefs can use only ingredients that the Food Bank currently has in the warehouse, drawing from these donations for inspiration.

While Food Banks strive to provide food that is fresh such as milk, eggs, bread, fruits and vegetables, we’ve all seen the stacks of macaroni-and-cheese boxes, peanut butter and soup tins in donation boxes in stores and offices. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the cuisine of almost all of these gifted chefs so I can’t wait to see what they’ll cook for us within this challenge!

For more details and to purchase tickets with all proceeds benefitting COFB, click https://trellis.org/campaign/The%20Fork%20and%20Spoon%20Gala/5b6c8496414d544161c1153d (Price is $250 each or purchase a table of eight for $1,900.)


Learn more about the Central Okanagan Food Bank at Central Okanagan Food Bank which operates Kelowna and West Kelowna warehouses. You might be surprised, for instance, to learn that 33 per cent of clients are children under the age of 15. An incorporated society, registered charity, it is governed by an elected Board of Directors, and is a member of Food Banks Canada, Food Banks BC, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Westside Board of Trade.

Join in the fun, if you can! If attending is not possible, please support your local food banks in whatever way you can manage.



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7th Annual Barrel Bash celebrated at Da Silva Vineyards and Winery

After an eventful season that included the addition of the new brand Da Silva Vineyards and Winery to the successful Misconduct Wines on the Naramata Bench to mark its 10th Anniversary, owners Richard and Twylla da Silva welcomed guests to the 7th Annual Barrel Bash, Saturday, September 29.

Says Richard and Twylla, “We’ve unveiled this new brand to highlight our evolution, winemaking and family’s history. Our Da Silva label presents ultra-premium, small lot wines centered around the 11 diverse vineyards we manage.”

It reflects their belief that the geography of a grape’s growth is one of the most important factors in its resulting quality. Richard and Twylla are dedicated to creating wines that are reflective of the personalities of their vineyards, using low intervention winemaking techniques and extended cellar aging.

The da Silva family immigrated in 1955 to the Naramata Bench from Portugal arriving with a suitcase and a strong work ethic. Applying hard work and farming to make their way, the first family farm was purchased in 1959.

“Today, we continue the tradition with a deep-rooted connection and respect for the land”, says Richard da Silva, Proprietor and Vigneron of Da Silva Vineyards and Winery. “Twylla and I drew extensively from this heritage when creating our winery in 2008 and the evolution of our journey and wines are a testament to our long family lineage. Our journey has been a true discovery of place.”

Upon entering the winery, guests were greeted with a glass of sparkling wine – the lovely Narrative by Okanagan Crush Pad given that the da Silvas have yet to produce their own bubbly. After brief words of introduction, the party spilled into the dining room where beautifully decorated tables adorned with wine glasses and charcuterie awaited.

Chef Abul Adame of The Kitchen presented six delectable courses with an Italian theme paired with wines from Da Silva Vineyards and Winery including the inaugural release of 2012 Black Label Merlot.

Chef Abul Adame with the lady who inspired him into the kitchen — his Mom

Enrichening the evening was music by Violet Finch, a Vancouver trio, who were also willing to accept requests from the guests.

Vancouver musicians Violet Finch

During a break, the Violet Finch team sorted out requests

We sat at a table with two couples whose vineyards supplied Da Silva with grapes and truly enjoyed the conversation. One of vineyard owners had recently sold his property to the da Silvas and was delighted to see the legacy continue.


1st course

Antipasti: Warm mixed olives, Toasted walnut and roasted garlic spread, Salami Loveto and Gorgonzola, Anchovies in citrus vinaigrette
Paired with 2015 Massacre Rosé

2nd course

Tomato velouté with basil coulis and toasted pine nuts
Paired with 2016 Misfit

3rd course

Mixed green salad with polpettine di Melanzane, duck confit with Amarena cherry gastrique
Paired with 2015 Pinot Noir

4th course

Capellini, mushrooms, sage brown butter with Grana Padano cheese
Paired with 2016 Chardonnay

5th course

Red wine slow braised beef, soft polenta and maple roasted squash
Paired with 2012 Black Label Merlot
*Inaugural Release*

6th course

Espresso Tiramisu
Paired with 2014 Inverno Icewine

Thanks and Salutes

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“Same same but” Better at Brodo Kitchen

I’m adapting that delightful phrase oft heard in Asia, “Same same but different” to describe the launch of the new menu at Penticton’s Brodo Kitchen. (It’s a saying that evolved as a basic way to tell foreigners that an item being sold is just as good as something with which they are familiar to a broader truth expressing how we share common human experiences throughout the world.)

Just shy of its five-year anniversary, Brodo Kitchen has tweaked its menu to refresh what’s available as regular offerings. From its opening in May 2013, Brodo Kitchen was an immediate success and local favourite. Consequently, Chef/Owner Paul Cecconi, wife Holly, Sous Chef Liam McNulty, and team, didn’t mess dramatically with the winning formula. Rather they’ve seized the opportunity after years of presenting daily specials to see what items tickle the taste buds of customers and to consider what are emerging trends in cuisine.

Owner/Chef Paul Cecconi introduces Brodo Kitchen’s revised menu

These observations are now honoured on the invigorated menu. Plus, popular options like being able to create your own Soup Flight of three of the day’s varieties remain.

It’s still the folksy approach we love posted on chalkboards above the order counter or on the bulletin of daily specials pasted on the cash register that I first wrote about in Savour Magazine in Fall/Winter 2013. You can link to that article, found on page 44, Savour Magazine Fall/Winter 2013, if you’d like to read more about Chef Cecconi’s culinary background.

Brodo Kitchen was included in an article called “Trash to Food Treasure” that I wrote for OpenRoad Driver Magazine. Read it on pages 26 to 30 of Volume 14, Issue 1 OpenRoad Driver.

On www.tastebrodo.com you can also learn more about the Brodo story, its menu, catering, and takeout as well as read the blog to get to know the team and latest accomplishments.

As you’d expect, there’s still a strong connection to comfort food and what can be sourced locally and what’s in season in the Okanagan. The motto of “simply fresh food” remains and “farm fresh” ingredients are purchased locally and from producers in the Okanagan or from around BC. All seafood is Ocean Wise ®. The new menu provides a few more vegetarian options and upon request, everything can be made gluten free.

What you might not expect are some delightful surprises emerging from the kitchen as Brodo’s contemporary spin on comfort food is enlivened with an international flair. Think Cubano sandwich, Soba noodle salad, Truffled mushroom and lentil soup.

On Chinese New Year’s, I was lucky to be included in an afternoon sneak preview which included small bowls and bites of the new items. Already I have some personal favourites such as the Spicy Tomato Meatball sandwich; Smoked Salmon ‘Nicoise’ salad or Pulled Chicken and Dumpling soup which I’ll be seeking regularly to jettison cravings.

The preview proved that you can’t go wrong whatever you select. Some items such as the Grilled Cheese sandwich represented a fine tuning of the previous one offered. If like me, you’re ready to shed tears for a couple of favourites no longer on the chalkboard, fear not: Brodo Kitchen plans to feature them periodically on its daily specials – more reasons to follow Brodo Kitchen on Facebook and @tastebrodo on Instagram.)

While the food reveals the touch of an accomplished and experienced team, the ambiance at Brodo Kitchen shows no snootiness. For those late to the fan club, you’ll find Brodo Kitchen at 483 Main Street, Penticton, BC. It’s open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday, 11 am to 8 pm.

Step in the door and head to the counter on your left to peruse the chalkboard menu organized by Soups, Sandwiches, and Salads. Be sure to check out the daily specials bulletin and the glass cabinet for desserts of the day. Place your order, pay, and await your number to be called. If you’d like some water, just fill one of the mason jars on the side counter from the container beside them. That’s where you’ll find napkins and cutlery.

Choose, too, from a nice selection of beverages such as local wine, craft beer, apple juice, Backyard Beans coffee roasted in Summerland, and Brodo’s own bone broth and homemade seasonal fruit drinks.

#bcwine such as CedarCreek Estate

While you’re waiting, check out the coolers for take-home soups, broth and other items; and see the shelves above the water counter for pickles and preserves you can buy.

The restaurant’s atmosphere exudes an appreciation for community and while the team doesn’t brag about it much, you’ll find them involved in many local initiatives. Once a month, Brodo’s hosts Soup Sisters/Broth Brothers Penticton where folks pay to participate in soup-making for the women’s shelter with the bonus of growing friendships and indulging in a bowl of that beautiful soup along with a glass of local wine.

Additionally, Chef Cecconi volunteered at Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School located on the Penticton Indian Band Reserve, as part of the Okanagan Chefs Association program, Chefs in the Classroom, last spring. Not only has he signed on again, he’s convinced his Sous Chef McNulty to join the team of volunteers.

Be sure to check out the new menu soon at Brodo Kitchen. I’m sure you’ll be ecstatic like me to find it “same same but better”.

Bonus on Chinese New Year’s Menu Launch – Lucky and Tasty!

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