Waste to energy debate heats up again in Metro Vancouver

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      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.



      Paddy Goggins

      Feb 20, 2013 at 9:12pm

      the fraser valley airshed is part of the larger georgia basin. we should all be part of the discussion about adding pollutants to this common airshed.

      my community (powell river) is a potential site.


      Feb 21, 2013 at 6:40am

      Moving forward in trying to manage waste is great, and when it produces energy even better.There is ALWAYS going to be a down side,but at least it wont be rotting garbage.Paddy,would you rather have a nuclear power plant? as energy use is climbing,and it has to come from somthing.

      Jamie Kaminski

      Feb 22, 2013 at 9:37am

      Incineration is just bad and trying to call it waste to Energy is even worse! It is a Waste Of Energy and we are tired of listening to the pro-incineration people's propaganda!! Air quality is only one down side, those toxins don't stay in the air, eventually they settle and accumulate in nature!! And this is how it ends up in breast milk and eventually in our children!! and Children's children!! We need to stop this now!!


      Feb 26, 2013 at 4:22pm

      PJ, really? Up to 30% or more of the incinerated material becomes ash. A toxic ash at that. Where do you want that to go? Maybe down the street from you? Maybe in your backyard? Or is it better to ship this toxic ash off to someone else's back yard? Recovered energy, how much? The materials incinerated need to be replaced with new stuff. How much new energy does it require to mine the new resources, then how much energy to turn these new resources into more stuff? It seems like a vicious cycle to just make stuff "go away". Wondering where "away" is??? Waste to Energy, Incineration is about as stupid an idea that you can think of. Those who support burning garbage should stand up and maybe show their support by maybe accepting some of this ash in their backyards maybe? If it is such a great idea, step up to the plate and line your yard with this ash. The supporters of smoking cigarettes used to talk like this. "it doesn't cause cancer....it isn't habit forming". Maybe we should take a hint and err on the side of safety, no? PJ, what if you are wrong???


      Feb 27, 2013 at 4:33pm

      I am curious to see when Metro Vancouver will realize they should shelve these plans. The initial proposal was for 500,000 tonnes and now it is at 370,000 tonnes. Many of the new municipal programs to increase recycling and start composting programs are having very good success so how does Metro know how much material will be left once they have several years of robust programs under their belt. Plus the materials that have energy (paper, plastics, organics) are the same ones that save more energy to be recycled and composted and that they will have banned from disposal -are they planning on failure?


      Mar 28, 2013 at 10:18pm

      Incinerating garbage:
      1. Stinky
      2. Pollution
      3. Increased C02 emissions
      4. Fire = smoke -> breathing smoke = hazardous
      4. Burning plastic -> breathing toxic chemicals


      Dec 9, 2013 at 2:00am

      Metro Vancouver?? Since when and who are they? I understood that
      all Municipalities are not in agreement. Especially those living within
      the vast scope that the pollution will cover.
      In Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission etc we have a 5 year fight to stop a
      US Corporation from polluting us from across the Border and I can
      assure those behind Metro Vancouver that we will stop you also.