The soil donated to the Munson Mountain BMX park is not up to agricultural standards and plans are underway for its removal.
“It’s not like it’s this toxic waste zone. It does meet the standards for other uses, but just for agricultural use, they have such a high standard,” Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said. “Whether you’re one percentage point over or greater than that, not making the standard is not making the standard.”
The city’s engineering department was preparing for the year’s capital projects when the soil that would eventually be donated was originally sampled. Around 27 bore holes were dug to analyze soil structure and composition around the city.
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The Main Street area had five samples taken. One of the areas, near Gyro Park and the City Hall parking lot, had some petrochemical contamination of the soil.
“It’s suitable for industrial/commercial use. That’s all they really cared about at that time was testing it for industrial use,” said Len Robson, public works manager for the City of Penticton.
However, the soil that Grizzly Excavating donated to the Penticton BMX Club for their park did not come from that area, rather around the 100 block of Main Street. The samples in the Main Street area gave no indication of contamination, Robson said.
Jakubeit said complaints from the neighbours in the Munson Mountain area regarding the look and smell of the dirt led the city to conduct further tests.
“Out of further due diligence and caution we did get it tested,” Jakubeit said.
Ten random samples were taken by Tetra Tech, who did the original report on the soil on Munson Mountain last year.
The results of the roughly $10,000 test came in on Oct. 17.
“The soil that’s there, or at least some of the samples, does not meet the standard for agricultural zoning. It does meet the standard for park land, but agriculture zoning is 10 times more stringent,” Jakubeit said.
The Munson Mountain location was designated for use by the BMX club last year after it was determined the soil was of poor agricultural quality. The area was used to dump material excavated from various construction projects prior to the city taking ownership.
A plan is in the works to remove the dirt from the area.
“Even though the portion of Munson Mountain for the BMX track was going to use was very poor agricultural soil, we still can’t or shouldn’t be adding more poor soil,” Jakubeit said.
He added, if at some point 10 or 15 years down the road, if the city was looking to repurpose the area, they want to ensure the soil meets agricultural standards.
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Andrew Bayston, president of the Penticton BMX club, described the delay not as an issue when it comes to the BMX park, but an inconvenience
“We’re a little dejected because we had everything set. The actual track would have been built by the end of this weekend,” Bayston said. “Though it is a slight delay, we’ve already worked something out with the city and it’s just going to be a delay in our process not doing it this week, but that track will be open for spring.”
Bayston said the larger issue is those who are continuing to fight against the BMX park.
“It’s inevitable, it is going to happen and it’s going to be open in April,” Bayston said.