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Opposition growing to Metro’s incinerator plan

A “huge groundswell of opposition” is forming against Metro Vancouver’s proposed incineration plans, says Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

And Gaetz, who is also the chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District, said she’s been asked to meet with Premier Christy Clark to detail the objections voiced by a wide range of opponents.

City Councillor Jason Lum said he met last Monday in Vancouver with a “broad-based coalition” from industry, labour, the private sector and environmental groups opposed to Metro Vancouver’s plan to burn garbage.

“More and more are coming out every day,” he said. “There is a lot of momentum of people coming together and forming a broad-based coalition to oppose specifically a mass-burn incinerator.”

The BC Chamber of Commerce is among those opposed to a government body controlling waste disposal, and last week the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association and the Canadian Home Builders Association of the Fraser Valley called on Metro Vancouver to “step back from its heavy-handed and high cost plan.”

Chamber president John Winter said there’s no need for government to get involved in something that is “well-looked after by the private sector” and that offers no financial benefit to taxpayers.

“Ultimately, it will put businesses and people out of work,” he said, about Metro Vancouver’s attempt to monopolize waste disposal. “It’s hardly something we could support.”

ICBA president Philip Hochstein said “a government garbage monopoly will only serve the interests of Metro itself — it will impact the environment and leave the tax bill in the hands of the taxpayers. It must be stopped.”

Jan Field, executive director of the homebuilder’s association in the Fraser Valley, said construction companies will no longer have access to competitive disposal sites, and the higher costs will be “folded into already high housing costs.”

Metro’s Zero Waste Plan would force all solid waste to Metro Vancouver disposal sites, and reduce the incentive to recycle, they said.

Lum said more jobs would be created through “innovative ways” of dealing with waste than through building incinerators to burn garbage.

Vancouver City Councillor Andrea Reimer said all six councillors there are working to reduce the amount of garbage collected in the Metro Vancouver region — through recycling and diversion — so that an incinerator will no longer be viable.

If they succeed in reducing the amount of waste to 200,000 tonnes, she said, “at that point an incinerator is not viable.”

Lum said the issue needs to be “reframed” from the current us-versus-them to one of co-operation between the two regional districts.

“It shouldn’t be the Fraser Valley versus Metro Vancouver,” he said. “It should be what’s going to be best for all the regions involved, what’s best for the environment, what’s best for our children, what’s best for job creation.”

“And, consistently, time and time again, you see mass-burn incinerators fail to meet those criteria,” he said.

“We want Metro Vancouver to come up with a solution that, instead of just thinking about incinerating their garbage, we’d like to see them exploring other (disposal) opportunities,” he said.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

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