This Article is part of the Up in Smoke special report See the full report

Fraser Valley decries incinerator plan, Burnaby mayor claims they're 'slamming door after cows' already out

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Lum says Metro Vancouver staff was officially informed about the plan in 2011, and input was requested then.  According to Metro Vancouver solid waste manager Paul Henderson, staff did receive an official letter in the fall of 2013 after the draft plan was posted on the FVRD website. Zero Waste chair Malcolm Brodie was informed and the decision was made then to invite representatives to present to the Zero Waste Committee in March. By that time, FVRD had approved the plan and sent it to Victoria.

“It surprises me a little,” Lum said afterward in an interview with the Vancouver Observer. “We started work on this plan in 2005, and it is by no means something that transpired overnight. I do feel they were given lots of notification on this.”

Malcolm Brodie asked Lum, “What is your thought to withholding approval of the plan until we can review it?” to which councillor Rick Glumac responded “I feel bad if we have to ask the minister to delay the plan when we’ve had several months to consider it.”

Councillors passed a motion requesting the Fraser Valley representatives to request the minister delay  approval, and Metro Vancouver staff was directed to analyse the plan and provide input to the board.

Regional tensions

There has been growing tension between the two regional authorities over a number of issues recently. Most notably, Fraser Valley Regional District - and all of the Vancouver councillors - are opposed to Metro Vancouver’s long-range solid waste plan that includes plans to build one, and possibly two, new incinerators on top of the existing one in Burnaby. Fraser Valley launched a very public TV and radio ad campaign against it last fall and made it clear that incineration was never considered for their plan.

“We did extensive study in terms of mass burn incineration and our air shed and every single credible source came back and told us that is the worst possible solution to deal with solid waste,” said Lum.

The controversial incineration plan forced the province to step in and order Metro Vancouver to consult with Fraser Valley over air quality concerns. Those consultations are currently bogged down in disputes but Malcolm Brodie made it clear after the meeting that Metro Vancouver is standing firm on its plan.

“What I will say is that the decision has been made to have waste-to-energy (incineration). Those who are opposed...they're entitled to their opinion. But the decision has been made that it will be a waste-to-energy solution." 

Metro Vancouver, on the other hand, has been upset with Fraser Valley for allowing open burning in the region, and at the meeting complained that Fraser Valley continues to ship garbage out of the region and across the border to a landfill site in Washington State.

Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan speaking at Zero Waste Committee meeting.  Mychaylo Prystupa photo.

“This is an issue that is very important,” said Derek Corrigan. “Land filling has been banned here and the reality is in my city we desperately want to close the Vancouver landfill and the Cache Creek landfill eventually. Landfills leach and release toxic chemicals, and the fact it’s happening in Cache Creek and Washington is not alright.”

The province tried several years ago to ban garbage from crossing the border, but under North American Free Trade (NAFTA) rules it is permitted.

“The ministry of environment is opposed to this and we appreciate the spirit of opposition to sending our garbage into someone else’s neighbourhood,” said Corrigan. “Passing garbage on to someone else is not a solution.”

Metro Vancouver’s new plan includes waste prevention, reduction and re-use strategies and a recycling target of 80 per cent by 2020.  A new ban on organics is also scheduled to begin this year. However even with those initiatives, Metro Vancouver says there is still a need for an incinerator.

 

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