At the invitation-only Sustainbility Dialogue hosted by Metro Vancouver yesterday, there was a lot of discussion about how important it is to "educate" the public about waste reduction. But the public, of course, was not there to hear it.
The sixty or seventy lucky invitees were treated to a buffet lunch followed by brief remarks (and lots of jokes about strict time limits) by a series of speakers. Moderator Rafe Mair then opened the floor to questions and comments from the audience.
First up was a Squamish First Nation invitee, who set a tone by noting, after welcoming us to his people's traditional territory, that we had all just feasted on "sustainable" grapes and pineapples flown in from god knows where. Then he got to his main point, which was First Nations' concerns about Metro Vancouver's plans for a landfill in the Interior.
From there the Q&A lost focus, with the people who were sitting in the rows of folding chairs posing random questions or comments, each one of which had to be ponderously answered by all the speakers at the table at the front of the room... I think I was probably not the only one who wondered if this was worth the cost to the rest of the public.
Speaking of costs to the public, the meeting ended with what was intended to be a positive announcement. Metro Vancouver's $160,000 expenditure on a Holiday Outreach Program achieved a very respectable number of "impressions" on the public. If you're not sure what an "impression" is and you didn't know there was a holiday campaign, you can learn more at a "special workshop" meeting of the Waste Management Committee on Tuesday, January 22nd, in New Westminster.