Our take: Any incinerator plan would have a lot to prove

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Most will be familiar with these wise words from the philosopher Aristotle.

They are words that need to be applied in the wake of news Cowichan Tribes is investigating the possibility of building an incinerator to burn waste in Cowichan.

We understand Tribes is facing a cash crunch due to the rising cost of shipping garbage. We understand it is incumbent on chief and council to leave no rock unturned as they try to do what’s best for the community. And we understand the anonymous notes left around the community last week were a textbook example of fear-mongering.

But history has taught us to be very skeptical incineration is the answer.

Certainly concerns about air pollution and the disposal of the toxic materials left behind from the incineration process are of uppermost concern.

In the nearly 20 years that have passed since this community moved away from incineration, technology may have advanced to a point where incinerators can be considered “safe” neighbours. We would like to see strong evidence that is actually the case.

Some say creating energy by burning waste actually creates a net benefit in terms of a community’s carbon footprint. We will need to carefully look at proof.

Because a clear-cut case of creating jobs and cutting costs to the taxpayer is not enough, not in a community that values quality of life above economic development.

Knowledge is a good thing. In that context, we support Tribes conducting a proper investigation into the potential risks and rewards of an incinerator. But the question begging to be answered is not “how can we do it?”

The more important question is “should we?”

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