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City questions Metro Vancouver incineration idea

Staff from the City of Vancouver have prepared a report on Metro Vancouver's solid waste management plan. The repor...


Staff from the City of Vancouver have prepared a report on Metro Vancouver’s solid waste management plan. The report criticizes Metro’s planning process for not following the Environmental Management Act guidelines.

Earlier this year, Metro Vancouver received recommendations to give up its attempt to site a landfill in B.C.’s Interior, to replace a previous project to build a landfill at the Ashcroft Ranch, which never got off the ground.

Metro quickly produced a discussion paper with a new plan that proposed 70 per cent diversion by 2015, along with the construction of six small (or three large) waste-to-energy garbage incinerators to dispose of the remainder. A small number of public consultation meetings were held. In the meantime, Metro authorized staff to seriously investigate shipping waste to a landfill facility in Washington State, as an interim measure to relieve pressure on local landfills (which are filling up quickly) and buy the region time to achieve its diversion goals and build the thermal treatment plants.

However, City of Vancouver staff has voiced sharp criticism of Metro’s proposal. While the city supports Metro’s waste diversion goal, it doesn’t believe an appropriate process has been followed to determine the best disposal option.

The report states (from different sections):

“There has been no scientific, technical or engineering analyses conducted to support the proposal that waste-to-energy is the sole appropriate strategy for handling all the region’s solid waste.”

“There has been no analysis on the sensitivity of the operating costs for the WTE on the quantity of waste processed. The significant capital costs for WTE also need to be considered.”

“The amendment process is proceeding despite objections by the staff of Vancouver and other municipalities and is unlikely to change unless objections are heard at the political level.”

“a very abbreviated and superficial consultation process [was held] with stakeholders and the public.”

Notwithstanding the city’s concerns, on April 25, Metro Vancouver’s board of directors approved a $700 million debenture for 2009 capital expenditures, including $250 million for waste-to-energy facilities.

Metro Vancouver is also trying to expropriate the Canfor Lands in New Westminster for a waste management facility after failing to negotiate a sale with the property owners.

An expropriation notice was filed with the Land Title Office for the 18.3-hectare parcel, which was listed for sale.

Metro spokesman Bill Morrell said no decision has been made for the use of the land, but noted that its size, zoning and location on the river would be appropriate for a waste management facility, possibly a waste-to-energy plant.

“In this region there aren’t that many pieces that big,” Morrell said. “We’re looking throughout the region for suitable pieces of property.”

The April/May edition of solid Waste & Recycling magazine features an editor’s page article, cover story and numerous related sidebar articles on Metro Vancouver’s waste options. A digital version of this edition will be available presently.


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