Eagles at the dump

Effort will be made to more quickly cover exposed garbage that attracts birds to the Kelowna dump, landfill manager Scott Hoekstra said Friday.

Exposed piles of trash that draw birds to the Kelowna dump are more visible now than in the past, city officials acknowledge.

Active operations have moved closer to Glenmore Road as the city builds up a big garbage heap on the west side of the landfill that will eventually be covered over and landscaped.

And while public complaints about dump operations have not increased recently, landfill manager Scott Hoekstra says more care will be taken to improve the appearance of the site and limit the amount of surface trash that attracts birds.

"We're certainly more visible along Glenmore Road than we were when we were working on the other side and at a higher elevation," Hoekstra said Friday in an interview.

"We can always try to do better with covering the garbage with soil quicker, so the birds can't get to it," he said. "That's always one of the things we're shooting to do, but sometimes we have weather issues."

A variety of methods are employed to discourage bird activity, including the use of bangers and other electrical devices. And a falconer on contract with the City of Kelowna is at the landfill five or six days a week, Hoekstra said.

"When I look out there, I would say bird activity is fairly typical for this time of year," Hoekstra said, noting as well that April is the busiest time of the year for any landfill in terms of public usage because of spring cleaning and yard work.

Along with the garbage itself, there are a number of wetlands in the landfill area that draw birds, he said: "We have a lot of surface water to manage."

City council approved a new dump operations plan in 2017 that allowed the elevation of the trash piles to increase higher than the 470 metres above sea level cap that existed previously.

Council heard at the time that the change would make better use of the site and extend the landfill's lifespan by 25 years, to 2100, postponing for a long time the need to begin the costly and controversial process of looking for a new landfill site.

Slopes at the north end of the landfill, close to Glenmore Road, are now being built up to the steeper angles necessary to support the higher elevation, Hoekstra said. And a road, with a base constructed in part from construction debris, is being built to provide eventually access to the top of the next working area.

All that work, he said, makes overall dump operations more noticeable to passers-by than was the case in the past.

Eventually, Hoekstra said, the slopes will be landscaped and what appears now as the working edge of an active dump site will have a much different appearance: "It'll look like a hillside."

The city gets about 20 complaints a year about landfill operations.

"We do try to limit all the potential nuisances, including mud, dust, odour, noise, birds, all of those things we think about and try to plan for," Hoekstra said. "Most of the complaints we do get are about line-ups at the (weigh) scales."