A Salmon Arm couple’s concerns about a possible landfill expansion has raised a host of issues.
Howard and Linda Williamson live across from a property owned by Mounce Construction, a property on which the Columbia Shuswap Regional District has made an initial offer to purchase for $750,000.
The purchase was revealed in a story in the Salmon Arm Observer after the details of the proposed purchase were released from an in-camera discussion among regional district directors in July.
The Williamsons have accused the regional district of trying to acquire the Mounce property for landfill expansion under the public’s radar and “burying $1 million without public input or scrutiny.”
“We will be living 21.5 meters from their new landfill,” write the couple in a submission to the Market News “There are seven other residences in the same situation.”
The area in which the Williamsons live is zoned industrial and the couple, who live at 2750 40th St. SE, have a log house-building business on their own property.
Another fly in the ointment is that although the Ministry of Environment (MOE) issued a permit for a private landfill on the Mounce property in April 1993 and amended it in 1994 for Mounce, neither his property nor the current landfill site is zoned for a landfill.
The CSRD’s Ben Van Nostrand says once the landfill permit is provided by MOE it is in perpetuity and can be withdrawn by the ministry only.
As it turns out, the city, who built the landfill and sold it to the CSRD in the 1990s, does not have a zone that accommodates landfills so the current landfill is not properly zoned either.
The City of Salmon Arm and CSRD have been conferring with MOE, who, in an Oct. 3 conference call, advised both parties that to proceed with the plan to purchase the Mounce property, the nature of the changes to the Salmon Arm landfill would be enough to trigger an amendment to the regional district’s solid waste management plan. This would require regional consultation.
Even though the issue is focused on a single landfill, it would affect a regional plan, thus requiring broader public consultation.
“The city has also indicated the change would trigger an amendment to their official community plan, in addition to a rezoning, which is an added layer of public consultation,” said Van Nostrand. “There are some time constraints with the property owner in terms of the purchase.”
Van Nostrand says MOE wants to see ideas and plans that the regional district have for the Mounce property.
“We will be working with a consultant to finalize those plans, even though we already have a sense of what we want to do there,” he says. “Then we would take it to public consultation.”
Van Nostrand says plans to hold a public meeting on Oct. 19 have now been delayed until further notice, but he is emphatic that the CSRD is not trying to hide anything and that land transactions are always dealt with in camera.
“On the city side of things, neither properties are zoned for landfills and this is an opportunity for the city to clean up existing uses and have things properly zoned,” says Kevin Pearson, Salmon Arm’s director of development services. “We’re proposing to create a new zone in the zoning bylaw called Waste Management Zone. The idea is the bylaw would also rezone the existing landfill.”
Van Nostrand, meanwhile, says if the purchase were to go through, the regional district would honour the required 50-metre boundary between the landfill and the Williamson residence.
He points out the CSRD needs to be looking at ways to expand the landfill.
“It just seems like a common-sense operation given that the Mounce property is already a permitted landfill.”
Permitted or not, Pearson says the permit does not respect city zoning.
“It really depends if CSRD is going to continue on the purchase plan, because then council would have to consider an OCP amendment – and then it gets even more confusing.”