Citizens taking action ~ Vancouver, Lower Mainland, and beyond.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Metro Vancouver cancels Ashcroft Landfill project ~ no future landfill in the Interior

Members of the Metro Vancouver Waste Management Committee were stunned by the recommendation in a report sent to them within hours of their meeting today to "abandon" the concept of shipping our garbage to a new landfill in the Interior.

Commissioner Johnny Carline's report says the long search for a replacement landfill in the Interior finally ran afoul of the New Relationship between First Nations and the provincial government. "Without the support of applicable First Nations, the continuation of a process which will ultimately require Provincial approval will be futile."

The Committee approved his recommendation that the region "abandon" all plans for a landfill in the Interior "and instead focus its attention and efforts on the Zero Waste Challenge, the establishment of local composting and waste-to-energy [emphasis added] processing capacity, and the use of the Vancouver Landfill and/or Washingon State landfill(s) for the disposal of any residuals."

Vancouver Councillor Peter Ladner wanted more details about the implications for his city but the other key stakeholder, Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, expressed firm support for the recommendation. Metro Vancouver will strike a task force with representatives of both cities to work out the details of the Vancouver landfill's future.

Both cities are likely to benefit from this development. The mayor of Cache Creek, on the other hand, made an impromptu appeal to the committee not to abandon the possibility of bringing our waste to an expanded facility in his village ~ a suggestion that was politely turned down.

The committee then went on to pre-view a Draft Discussion Document on a Strategy for Updating the Solid Waste Management Plan that proposed programs and actions to raise our waste diversion from 52% to 70%. The committee members were over the moon to finally be discussing waste reduction rather than disposal.

But the elephant in the room was Climate Change. The Draft Discussion Document enshrines "the 4th R" (waste-to-energy) as a a key component of the proposed plan, pitching waste as "non-fossil based energy" ~ an assertion that ignores the embodied energy, to say nothing of fossil carbon physically present in today's waste.

The public will be invited to comment in March and April, when we can tell them that we're happy our waste isn't going to the Interior ~ but we don't want it to go in the sky either.

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