Photo contributed At right is the current layout of the Salmon Arm landfill. Above is the airport and to the left is the Mounce property, the subject of a tentative purchase by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District to expand the landfill.

Group opposes Salmon Arm landfill expansion

Regional district to offer open house, online survey to capture public input on expansion, options.

A couple who live near a proposed expansion of the Salmon Arm landfill think the plan stinks.

Opinions from the public are welcome, according to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. A public open house will be held on Monday, Jan. 22, 7 to 9 p.m., at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort. And an online survey awaits at the CSRD website, www.csrd.bc.ca, under ‘solid waste management plan.’

Related link: CSRD plans for landfill expansion

“We’ve met with four other families on the weekend whose property would border this proposed expansion – and not one of the neighbours supports it. And they’re all kind of astonished with what’s transpired, and the way it’s gone, the way it’s been handled,” said Howard Williamson Monday.

The group has named itself the 40th Street SE Neighbourhood Alliance.

Currently the CSRD has a deal in place to purchase the 20-acre Mounce property at 2750 – 40th St. SE in Salmon Arm for $750,000, contingent on BC Ministry of Environment (MOE) approval and the City of Salmon Arm rezoning the property. CSRD staff say the funds are available in the CSRD’s Solid Waste Management reserve account.

Related link: CSRD landfill expansion worries neighbours

Williamson points to MOE’s 2016 ‘Landfill Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste.’

The criteria in the document, which are listed as guidelines and not regulations, state that “the landfill footprint must not be located within 500 metres of an existing, or planned sensitive land use.”

Residences are listed as one of the sensitive land uses.

The Williamsons’ residence, however, is 25 metres from the property line that borders the Mounce property. The couple retired a couple of years ago from the log home business they operated on their property, which is zoned industrial.

“They allude to it (the industrial zoning) as though that somehow justifies it (expanding the landfill relatively close to a residence). ‘Residence’ is one of the allowed uses in general industrial,” says Williamson, noting he has identified 17 residences that are 500 metres or less from the proposed expansion.

The MOE landfill criteria also mention airports, stating that a landfill footprint should be located no closer than 3.2 kilometres in situations where bird control is implemented – and Salmon Arm’s landfill uses falcons.

“I would contend that the siting of the current landfill site was a poor choice… Things were different then; I guess the local people were doing the best they could. To contemplate expanding it now only exacerbates the conflicts and problems…”

Williamson suggests: “This whole stinking mess should be out of town. Expanding it and extending its life seems totally wrong to me.”

Ben Van Nostrand, team leader with the CSRD’s environmental health services, said the landfill would never be located next to an airport today, but things were different in the ’70s.

He says the Mounce property was issued a permit by the province in the ’90s to landfill demolitions and construction waste. Equipment is maintained in shops there and a massive concrete pile is stored on the property, he says.

“It’s a different category of waste, that’s why we’re trying to hear from the public.”

Van Nostrand says he understands the Williamsons’ concerns.

“I’ve met with them, I’ve been on the property. The fact remains, they built their house beside a property that has a permit to landfill… I feel for them, but they’ve built a house in kind of an industrial-type area.”

He says the purpose of the public input opportunities is to hear whether people would favour moving the landfill and, if so, where. Or would another method of disposal be favoured, such as incineration.

In Van Nostrand’s professional opinion, he says “expanding the footprint of an already impacted site is the best option.”

Van Nostrand said CSRD staff think the Mounce property is valuable even if not as a municipal landfill because it could potentially be used for composting or to store or deconstruct items that the CSRD will be trying to divert out of the waste stream. Furniture would be one example of this.

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marthawickett@saobserver.net

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