In fall, residents living near the proposed regional compost facility in Summerland posted signs showing their opposition to the facility. At the Nov. 14 Summerland council meeting, the proposed facility was rejected for a second time. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland council maintains position on regional compost facility

Summerland has rejected, for a second time, the proposed regional compost facility

Summerland’s municipal council revisited the idea of exploring further a regional compost facility at the landfill, but the final decision remained the same as before.

As a result, Summerland has rejected, for a second time, the proposed facility.

The Summerland council chamber was filled beyond capacity for this portion of the council meeting.

At the Nov. 14 council meeting, Mayor Peter Waterman brought back the motion for reconsideration, using Section 131(1) of the Community Charter.

The resolution, approved at the Oct. 23 council meeting, stated that “the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen be informed that the district of Summerland Council is not interested in exploring the Summerland Landfill site for the proposed compost facility any further.”

The motion was approved in a 6-1 vote, with only Waterman voting against the resolution.

Since that meeting, Waterman has said he believes the council resolution was wrong.

“By passing the motion to reject, council denied the public due process of understanding the subject, both pros and cons,” he said in a report to council.

“The motion totally denied the opportunity of a full understanding of the proposed project for all the citizens of Summerland. Council represents all interests in any subject of interest in the community.”

The Community Charter allows the mayor to revisit a council decision, within 30 days following the meeting.

At the Oct. 23 council meeting, the regional district had asked the municipality for access to the landfill site, in order to carry out technical studies related to the proposed regional compost facility.

The regional district had requested an access agreement for this purpose. Municipal staff had recommended council grant the regional district access to the site for this purpose.

“The proposal and its implications are complex and a thorough process is required so that all parties can fully understand the benefits and risks before coming to a final conclusion,” chief administrative officer Linda Tynan said in a report to council in October.

She added that the public engagement process would proceed after the regional district’s study had been completed.

“A decision to undertake public consultation would not indicate council’s support of the proposed RDOS,” Tynan stated in her report.

Under the agreement, the regional district would have been responsible for any costs associated with the technical studies.

By revisiting the decision, the previous motion from the Oct. 23 meeting was made null and void.

Coun. Toni Boot put forward a motion to request more information from the regional district.

“There were at least two councillors who stated they did not have enough information,” she said. “I have some questions I would like to have answered, and the only group who can answer them is the staff of the RDOS.”

Her concerns have been about the traffic on Prairie Valley Road and misinformation she says has been spreading.

But Coun. Doug Holmes said further study was not needed.

“I disagree that we didn’t have a discussion of the pros and cons. That’s exactly what we did at the last meeting,” he said.

“In principle, this is a bad idea. More information won’t make it a good idea.”

Coun. Erin Carlson said the logistics of traffic flow are a concern for her. She said the discussion over the compost would be different if another site had been selected.

Coun. Janet Peake said while she does not have a problem looking at the proposed site, she is concerned with the route trucks would take to access the proposed site.

“It’s the fact that it’s coming through our community,” she said. She added that she does not see an opportunity to have the site located elsewhere.

Waterman said he had told the regional district board he was not interested in the facility unless odour, leachate problems and traffic concerns could be addressed.

But even without the compost facility, he said leachate is a problem at the Summerland landfill. He added that there is no odour control at the landfill at present.

The proposed compost facility would be 1.2 kilometres from Summerland’s balancing reservoir and would be impervious to leachate.

Coun. Erin Trainer said she appreciated the discussion made by council at the Oct. 23 meeting and feels confident with the decision she made at the time.

“I have full confidence that the RDOS will find a suitable location,” she said. “When they do, Summerland and all the communities in the south Okanagan will benefit.”

The motion to seek further information was defeated, with only Boot and Waterman in favour. Coun. Richard Barkwill was not present at the council meeting.

Following this decision, Holmes brought back the original council decision, which once again was carried. Waterman was the only member of council opposed to the decision to reject the compost facility.

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