Coquitlam seeks regional waste alternatives to incinerators

Metro Vancouver’s draft solid-waste-management plan, which calls for at least one more incinerator in addition to the long-standing facility in Burnaby, hasn’t caught fire with Coquitlam city council.

On the contrary, council members are poised to throw cold water on the plan by asking the regional body to go back to the drawing board and present the public with more choices for dealing with the Lower Mainland’s garbage.

“They [council] do want to have a process that really opens the door to a wider range of options,” Coquitlam mayor Richard Stewart told the Straight in a phone interview.

On May 10, the council’s engineering, utilities, and environment standing committee adopted staff recommendations that the city urge Metro to reconsider the draft plan’s goal of increasing the region’s waste-to-energy capacity by 500,000 tonnes per year.

Staff suggested that the regional body call for either an “open-market request for proposals of all site-specific, feasible disposal options” or an “independent risk-assessment audit of the current planning-level assumptions”.

Councillor and committee vice chair Selina Robinson told the Straight that she and the two other members of the committee approved these recommendations.

“If we’re going to talk about waste-to-energy, then I would like to see a variety of waste-to-energy proposals,” Robinson said by phone.

The committee will bring its decision to council, and Stewart anticipates that council will adopt the same position.

This month, Metro began public consultations on the draft plan, which also includes increasing the percentage of the region’s waste diverted from disposal to 70 percent by 2015, from the current level of 55 percent.

“All of the discussions have been about incineration,” Stewart said. “So when you go to the public open house that is going around the region right now, there will be a good amount of information about incineration. It is meant to present incineration in a good light.”

However, Stewart stressed that he’s “not dead set against incineration because I’ve read the reports. But I know there’s a lot of people that have serious concerns, and I want to understand those concerns.”