Kelowna dumps plan for 1,000 housing units near landfill

The City of Kelowna has voted against a large-scale housing development planned near the city's landfill saying future residents may have health and noise concerns.

Developer says concerns about noise and smell are unfounded, blames lack of leadership at city hall

City of Kelowna staff raised concerns that future residents might complain about health and noise issues created by a nearby dump. (Shutterstock / Vova Shevchuk)

The City of Kelowna has nixed plans for a large-scale development near the city's landfill citing the possibility of future "nuisances" faced by residents including noise, dust and smell.

Diamond Mountain was planned as a community of 1,000 single-and multi-family homes, as well as parks and trails, located on an 88-acre site south of the Glenmore Landfill.

In a 5-2 vote Monday, council rejected plans to move ahead with the development.

"This is a tough decision," said Mayor Colin Basran.

"I think we need to consider is whether this is an appropriate place to put homes and is this an appropriate place right now?"

Developer 'terribly disappointed'

In a report to council, city staff recommended against the project, saying future residents might complain about health risks or noise from the dump —  complaints that would be costly to address.

"At the end of the day, I'm looking at what I believe is the interest of the entire city. What's in the community's best interest?" said Coun. Luke Stack.

Diamond Mountain was a 1,000-unit hillside community planned for this area south of Kelowna's landfill. (DiamondMountain.ca)

Developer Renee Wasylyk, CEO of Troika Developments, said she was "terribly disappointed" at the outcome, adding council made its decision based on fear rather than science.

In a passionate presentation, she said a third-party engineering report shows the development would not be affected by odour and dust to the extent claimed by city staff.

"We blew bullet holes in the science," Wasylyk told CBC Daybreak South host Chris Walker. "It wasn't about the science." 

Blames fear mongering, lack of leadership

"The voice of city staff started shifting and changing and someone took hold of the conversation and has literally fear-mongered everyone into a corner."

Wasylyk partially blamed the decision on what she calls an "absence of leadership" because the city manager will retire on March 30 — a claim refuted by outgoing city manager Ron Mattiussi.

"I can understand her frustration and anger at being turned down, but certainly I would not have characterized city hall as in complete disarray," said Mattiussi.

The development was planned for an area south of Kelowna's dump. (City of Kelowna)

"Nobody inherently has the right to rezone land. That decision is council's and council's alone," he said.

"I'm satisfied at the end of this struggle ... that we presented the best information possible."

Wasylyk had been working on the plan for Diamond Mountain since 2011.

With files from CBC's Daybreak South and Chris Walker.

About the Author

Jaimie Kehler

Jaimie Kehler is a web writer, producer and broadcaster based in Kelowna, B.C. She has also worked for CBC News in Toronto and Ottawa. To contact her with a story, email jaimie.kehler@cbc.ca.