Mayor says Metro has ‘disrespected’ local concerns on incinerator issue

Representatives from Metro Vancouver presented their 'waste flow management' plan to Abbotsford council.

A proposed Metro Vancouver waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerator

A presentation Monday afternoon on Metro Vancouver’s trash management plan ended with Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman lambasting Metro for its “disrespect” of local concerns.

“Every friendship, every neighbour has disputes … but we don’t feel as if we have had meaningful discussion with you,” Banman told Metro chair Greg Moore during his presentation to city council.

Moore and Paul Henderson, general manager of Metro solid waste services, presented their organization’s plan to keep waste from being hauled to the Fraser Valley.

Metro wants to license garbage haulers and ensure they only take trash to Metro-approved facilities.

Currently, some waste from the region is flowing east to Abbotsford, where tipping fees at private transfer stations and First Nations landfills are cheaper – as low as $70 per tonne, compared to Metro’s current rate of $107. The waste from these sites is then shipped by rail to a U.S. landfill run by Rabanco, near the Washington-Oregon border.

Moore said this movement of garbage out of Metro results in these haulers not contributing to the cost of the region’s waste management system and creates an uneven playing field in the industry.

Additionally, the haulers avoid disposal bans and prohibitions, reducing the incentive to recycle, he said.

Moore said the fear, if Metro does not clamp down on this issue, is that more haulers will use outside facilities, the region will lose millions of dollars in tipping fees to support its waste management system, and its goal of diverting 70 per cent of waste from the landfill by 2015 will not be met.

But Coun. Patricia Ross said this plan is leading closer to the concept of a second waste-to-energy incinerator being built, in addition to the one already in place in Burnaby.

Metro directors have said they need 370,000 tones of garbage per year to support a new waste-to-energy (WTE) plant.

Controlling where Metro haulers can take their garbage ensures the incineration quota is met, opponents argue.

The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) — of which Abbotsford is a part – have expressed concern about the impact that pollution from a Lower Mainland-based incinerator could have on the sensitive Fraser Valley air shed.

FVRD does not have a seat on the expert panel overseeing WTE plans.

Ross, who is vice-chair of the FVRD, and Banman referenced this issue during Metro’s council presentation on Monday, saying FVRD has been ignored in the matter.

“We’re deemed as being the fly in the ointment,” Banman said. “I think we have a lot to teach you, but I don’t think you want to hear us because it doesn’t fit in (with Metro Vancouver’s plans).”

Ross said incineration is not the right route to go.

“It’s just frustrating to me that you’re kind of missing the point … You couldn’t have possibly chosen a worse place in the world to locate this,” she told Moore.

A proposed strategy for Metro’s waste flow management is scheduled to be submitted to the board for approval in early July.

 

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