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The Campbell Mountain landfill buffer zone - why a 500 metre setback is important

The Landfill Buffer Zone The Operating Certificate for the Campbell Mountain Landfill (“CML”) adjacent to the proposed development site stipulates that a minimum buffer zone of 300 meters from any proposed residential development must be maintained. In 2019, the RDOS expressed concern that the 300-meter buffer zone could be placing the CML, local residents and area taxpayers at significant risk and cost due to future land use conflicts and potential health issues.

The RDOS has reason to be concerned. There are many examples of the health risks of development close to landfills. In Bozeman, Montana a proposed settlement has been reached in most of the lawsuits spurred by fumes seeping from the city of Bozeman’s old Story Mill Landfill. 22 property owners in the Bridger Creek Phase 3 neighborhood were awarded a total of $7.5 million in exchange for bringing litigation over the fumes’ impact to a close. Taxpayers are on the hook for a portion of the settlement.

"Unbeknownst to plaintiffs, their homes acted as catchments for the (volatile organic compounds’) off-gassing from the poisoned groundwater," attorneys wrote, naming tetrachlorothene, trichloroethene, vinyl chloride and dichloromethane as specific chemicals of concern.

Radon gas was another key concern for the residents of the development:

Closer to home on March 16, 2018, Kelowna paid a hefty sum to secure a proper buffer around the Glenmore landfill prior to allowing a developer to proceed. The City was concerned about negative impacts from visual, odour, noise and dust nuisances created by the landfill and composting operations.

"This is likely to result in complaints to council and the Ministry of Environment, adding pressure to either spend significant tax dollars on modifications, or relocate or close city facilities," the staff report states.

After some discussion the issue was resolved “with the municipality spending $12M to buy out the land from under a proposed development to prevent complaints about the Glenmore Landfill.”

Currently the RDOS estimates the life span of CML at about 90 years. The cost to close and relocate would be vastly more prohibitive than the suggestion to buy the 1050 Spiller property.

Cameron Baughen, past Solid Waste Management Coordinator for the RDOS, has stated that "the RDOS has serious concerns that, future residential development planned near the Campbell Mountain Landfill could shorten the landfill’s lifespan and negatively impact future residents.” It is apparent that allowing the proposed development of the Spiller block, will shorten the lifespan of the landfill AND detrimentally affect residents. Even if the costly process of relocating the landfill is assumed, there will still be long lasting effects associated with living in proximity to the landfill.

The Operating Certificate for the Campbell Mountain Landfill, 1972, adjacent to the proposed development site stipulates that there is a minimum buffer zone of 300 meters from any proposed residential development. CH retained Associated Engineering to evaluate the impacts of the CML on the proposed residential development and concluded that the 300m setback buffer is potentially insufficient to minimize odor and noise nuisance from the CML.

An RDOS proposal to the City of Penticton to increase the buffer zone between the landfill and residential development to 500 meters was put before Council and rejected. And yet, according to the British Columbia Landfill Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste, section 3.1, “The landfill footprint must not be located within 500 m of an existing or planned sensitive land use… sensitive land uses include, but are not limited to: schools, residences, hotels, restaurants, cemeteries, food processing facilities, churches, and municipal parks".

The Canadian Horizons attempt to mitigate potentially harmful or even litigious repercussions related to the future residences of their proposed subdivision taken from their NCP: “Canadian Horizons will work to have an instrument registered on the title of the lots to be created acknowledging that the lots are adjacent to an active industrial landfill operation and that nuisances may occur from time to time.” The instrument will remain on title in perpetuity.

It is far from certain whether homeowners with this legal “instrument” to prohibit legal action because of impacts of odour, noise, dust, seagulls and

sludge seeping from the landfill, would be legally bound by such a caveat. The fact of the matter is that there are potentially devastating legal ramifications of crowding homes within proximity of the Campbell Mountain Landfill.

It is critical to the welfare of future residents that the 500 metre buffer zone is the minimum distance to any future development. It will protect the health and safety of future residents. And interior health agrees. See the letter below.

Interior Health Aug 18 copy
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