Waste to energy debate heats up again in Metro Vancouver
Disagreement has flared up again over Metro Vancouver’s plan to build a new waste-to-energy facility that would burn garbage.
The chair and vice chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District say they’re disappointed about Metro’s move to junk the FVRD’s request to include a representative from their region on an expert panel that will assess technology for the facility.
The two regional districts share an airshed in the lower Fraser Valley. The FVRD has long-standing concerns about the effects of garbage incineration on air quality.
Chilliwack mayor and FVRD chair Sharon Gaetz insisted that her region needs a representative on the expert panel as part of the consultation process between the two districts.
“Metro has assured us that they are looking for a technology that will not pollute our air,” Gaetz told the Straight in a phone interview. “We confess to being dubious about that. But we sure would like to see what they would like to present.”
Metro has one incinerator in Burnaby with a capacity to burn 280,000 tonnes of waste per year. It plans to construct a bigger plant at an undetermined location in order to burn up to 370,000 tonnes a year.
Abbotsford councillor and FVRD vice chair Patricia Ross described the latest twist in the two districts’ simmering garbage row as “bizarre”.
“Throughout this whole process, for years, they have been told by the province to consult with the Fraser Valley and they were told to ask us what we wanted to see in terms of consultation, but it seems that every single request we make, everyone gets denied,” Ross told the Straight by phone.
According to a Metro staff report on the Friday (February 22) agenda of the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District board, the expert panel is meant to be an “independent advisory” group. Staff reported that the “deliberations of the panel are conducted in confidence to ensure open conversation and protection of proponents’ private information,” hence it is “not possible to have an FVRD representative participate in the Third Party Expert Panel”.
Staff also indicated that a list of companies qualified to submit proposals for the new waste-to-energy plant will be presented to Metro’s zero waste committee in April 2013.
Metro didn’t make a spokesperson available for an interview.