Feature Story                                                                                              Wednesday, June 26, 2013

                     

Trash Talking

FVRD board unites against Metro Vancouver's possible incineration plan

Staff/Voice photos

Metro director Malcolm Brodie speaks with reporters after his Waste Flow Management presentation to the FVRD board on Tuesday. Below, City councillor Jason Lum listens intently to Metro's presentation.

 

etro Vancouver came calling to the Fraser Valley Regional District board meeting Tuesday with a presentation on Waste Flow Control, which takes into consideration the type of materials that can be recycled, with an overall view to reducing the garbage now going to landfills from the 1 million tonnes over the next 5 years down to 700,000 tonnes or less.

 

Currently, there are about 40 trucks taking trash daily to the Cache Creek landfill which is slated to close in 2016, and so municipalities are scrambling to come up with a plan to handle the ever-increasing waste stream prior to that.

 

The mayors and representatives however weren't in the mood to talk about flow control, and instead insisted on more consultation regarding Metro's looming incineration plan.

 

At issue is the air shed quality, especially in the Upper Fraser Valley where the mountains tend to corral pollutants.

Reports say that toxic particulate emissions and carcinogens from burning garbage are causing general health concerns in places like Europe where incineration is being used and data there points to an increase in the number of cancers in people living near incinerators.

There is also concern about what to do with the fly ash—the by-product of incineration—which contains cadmium from burning things like batteries and hard plastics.

Despite the groundswell of adversity toward incineration, municipalities like Surrey, New Westminster and Gold River are showing interest in hosting the burners.

The delegation consisted of Zero Waste Committee chair Malcolm Brodie and Metro Solid Waste Department manager Paul Henderson who spoke about flow control, and when confronted about a perceived lack of due process regarding consultation, insisted that they weren't there to engage in dialogue regarding incineration.

The mayors have been crying foul because they say they haven't had meaningful discussion with Metro on any incineration plans.

Brodie said that wasn't the case, and insisted that Metro has wanted consultation and dialogue with stakeholders about the incineration option that Metro is currently looking at.

"We have asked for consultation, we have publically stated it and we have welcomed you to come to our committee and talk to us on consultation," he said. "I've spoken to you individually about the possibility of consultation, and we have tried to consult, and we haven't gotten anywhere."

Abbotsford mayor Bruce Banman, who always seems to be smack dab in the middle of controversy, like the recent dumping of chicken manure on homeless squats, proved once again how flippant he is with a ten-minute rant where he rightfully pointed out that taxpayers now pay just $75 per ton of garbage trucked out to the burgeoning Cache Creek landfill, compared to Metro's projected tipping (dumping) fees of $107 per ton that would cost to burn it, which would increase incrementally to $151 per ton by 2017.

With the TV cameras rolling, the petulant Banman accused Metro of wanting a monopoly on waste disposal, whose plan calls for the use of one hauler to handle trash which is similar to San Jose's that he says flies in the face of the current provincial government's declaration of being a free enterprise system.

"You need a monopoly to make and enforce every single individual within that region to pay more. For instance, we pay out here in the Fraser Valley Regional District I think $75 a ton versus your $101 which is soon to go up to $150, because if you don't have a monopoly on it, your precious little business plan to fire up this waste-to-energy plan that you don't want to talk about because you really don't want to consult with us on, is not meaningful consultation, and you came out here a whopping 4 times and held a public meeting, which is not consultation, and you also stopped any experts that we wanted to have sit on your scientific review board. You wouldn't allow that."

Banman continued his berating of Metro calling their supposed inaction on consultation "outrageous".

"It's laughable and it insults our intelligence as we sit around here. You don't want to talk about why you really want to have control, which is 100 per cent monopoly on garbage, and I don't know how you're going to explain to all your taxpayers that they're going to be clipped an extra 50 bucks a ton," he said.

Brodie reiterated Metro's intentions at the meeting that they were there to speak only about Waste Flow Control and not to consult on any incineration plan.

Board chair Sharon Gaetz, who has been against the waste-to-energy projects, was hopeful they could get dialogue started with Metro.

"We've waited for a long time for this in the Fraser Valley Regional District, so we hope that you'll be open and consultative and listen to our questions, and try to answer them honestly with transparency."

"I think the biggest thing is that we've talked to different waste haulers that have also talked to you," she said. "Their fear, and our fear too, is that the increase in the control of waste and the increase of tipping fees is because you're going to have to pay for that half-billion dollar incinerator in some way."

Patricia Ross, board vice-chairwoman, said the Fraser Valley mayors in attendance didn't care for Metro's heavy-handedness by forcing an incineration plan down the throats of residents.

In contrast to that, while speaking to reporters afterward, Brodie said that 7 out of 10 options on the table have to do with incineration, adding that no decision has been made on the type of solid waste management system Metro intends to go with.

According to Gaetz, getting access to Metro's incineration report will cost taxpayers a whopping $5000, which she says is unfair.

City councillor Jason Lum drew concerns about Metro becoming an importer of garbage from other areas in BC, and perhaps even from the US, in order to pay for the costs of building and running the various incinerators. He said that as more recyclables are removed from the trash stream, more would be needed to make up the difference in order to pay the $500-million it would cost for each incinerator.

Henderson then responded saying there was nothing in Metro's present plans that allows them to become importers, however if in the future the option arose, then municipalities and stakeholders would have to be fully consulted first.

 

 

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