The prospect of a new incinerator in B.C.’s Lower Mainland joining the existing facility in Burnaby remains very much alive.
Following hours of debate, municipal politicians comprising the Metro Vancouver board of directors today (July 30) decided to recommend to the provincial government waste-to-energy as an option to deal with the region’s garbage.
This approach could involve any of the following technologies: mass burning or incineration, gasification, pyrolysis, and anaerobic digestion.
Metro Vancouver politicians also endorsed the idea that a new solid waste facility may be located either inside or outside the region.
The B.C. Ministry of Environment has to approve the regional body’s waste management plan before the next steps are taken.
Directors representing the City of Vancouver tried but failed to dissuade the body to eliminate incineration as an option. The call to do away with any new mass burning facility was articulated by Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal during the meeting.
Deal also recommended that no new landfills be built to handle the region’s solid wastes.
Metro staff proposed to the board an in-region waste-to-energy option that would consider all available technologies, including incineration, but this was voted down.
Staff also included as alternative the consideration of waste-to-energy methods inside as well as outside the region, but with a specific provision excluding incineration within the borders of Metro Vancouver. However, this was also defeated during the deliberations.
While there were disagreements on how to handle the region’s wastes, Metro Vancouver directors were generally united on the goal of reducing garbage in the Lower Mainland.
They agreed on an objective of having a 70-percent waste diversion rate by 2015. They also voted in favour of an aspirational objective of reducing by 10 percent by 2020 the generation of garbage by each Metro resident.
The board also agreed to lobby the provincial and federal governments to adopt new laws that would compel manufacturers to reduce the volume of non-recyclable packaging material that comes along with their goods.
To demonstrate that all levels of government can do more in terms of encouraging citizens to generate less waste, Richmond councillor Harold Steves brought out a small plastic bag containing what was left of his family’s household garbage. The package included mostly plastic wrappers that cannot be recycled.
Steves told the board that his family reuses and recycles up to 79.9 percent of its garbage.
In a presentation to the board, Metro Vancouver chief administrative officer Johnny Carline explained that even with a diversion rate of 70 percent, the region would still be left with 1.2 million tonnes of wastes that need to be disposed.
In an impromptu press conference after the meeting, Metro Vancouver chair and Delta mayor Lois Jackson said that she was satisfied with the process with which the region’s politicians agreed on a waste-to-energy approach.
Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore, who is also the chair of Metro’s waste management committee, told reporters that the regional body has “contractual” arrangements with the private company maintaining the Cache Creek landfill until 2016.
Anti-incineration campaigner Ben West of the Wilderness Committee told media that Metro directors basically made a non-decision by failing to reject outright the option of burning garbage.