There’s little or no appetite around the Regional District of Nanaimo board table to have Vancouver trash shipped to the area for incineration, but they are still willing to talk about the issue with their Lower Mainland counterparts.
The issue arose at Tuesday night’s board meeting, with three delegations slamming the idea, expressing concern about everything from sulphur dioxide emissions to the need to dispose of fly ash to the possible impact on tourism.
However, CAO Paul Thorkelson repeatedly stressed that the request from Metro Vancouver only involved having staff attend a meeting to look at the parameters of their proposed process to find a site for the facility.
“There is no other issue here,” he said. “It is just to get the facts in terms of what Metro Vancouver is looking for.”
That didn’t do anything to turn down the heat on the issue. “We have won many green awards in Canada for our recycling and reuse program,” said Pleasant Valley director Maureen Young. “I think it’s all negative for us to even entertain it. There are just too many questions. If Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Powell River and North Vancouver don’t want it, why would we even consider it? We should just accept their letter for information only and that would be the end of it.”
Other directors were equally passionate in their opposition to the idea of burning Lower Mainland garbage, but stressed the need to remain in the loop in order to come up with the best strategies to stop the plan, should it become necessary.
“We don’t want an incinerator on the Island, in the regional district and particularly in Nanaimo,” said City of Nanaimo director Diane Brennan. “What are the opportunities to stop this? We need to have this meeting so we know about our opportunities to oppose that. That’s our best shot. We need more information. I don’t know how we can mount an adequate defence or advocate a position without detailed information.”
Cedar director Alec Mcpherson warned that the 700,000 tons shipped from the Lower Mainland would be just the tip of the iceberg.
“The process is simple,” he said. “Metro Vancouver has garbage they need to get rid of and the further away they send it, the more expensive it gets. The closest transportation would be BC Ferries or Seaspan, both of which come to Duke Point. The farther you set the incinerator away from that point, the more expensive it would get. My big concern here is that we will end up with every other district on the Island sending their garbage here and we will have a waste to energy incinerator as an icon and tourism will be down the toilet.”
Qualicum Beach director Dave Willie put the brakes on however, stressing that failing to attend the proposed meeting would leave the RDN out of the loop, leaving it with no say in the matter.
Lantzville director Brian Dempsey suggested a compromise in the matter, calling for staff to attend the meeting, but to bring a message from the board that it utterly rejects any idea to have an incinerator sited in the area.
That idea didn’t fly however and directors voted to have staff attend the meeting and report back to the board.