Garbage is big business. Large urban areas like Vancouver are a hot market. Especially when they send out signals that they have a "garbage crisis" and might be ready to spend $3 billion on new incinerators.
Yesterday Marvin Hunt, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Waste Management Committee, told his fellow committee members his mailbox was crammed with advertising from companies wanting to sell us garbage solutions.
He advised his colleagues to forward the enquiries to Metro Vancouver staff. Rightly so. There should be no perception that a politician is pushing a particular company or technology. This is why municipal waste departments are staffed with professionals who make purchasing recommendations based on rigorous screening.
Nonetheless, these professionals take direction from politicians on what to look for. And politicians, in turn, take direction from citizens. That's why, if we care what happens to our garbage, we have to start looking at the options and making it clear what we think should be on the shopping list.
Letters from citizens aren't junk mail. They get read and help shape policy. Marvin Hunt twice emphasized yesterday that no decision has been made about how this region will manage its garbage, regardless of the "strategies" that were sent out in the draft plan.
March and April will be our window of opportunity to make our views known. If you aren't sure how the garbage system works and where we should be going, come to the Citizens' Workshop on Zero Waste on March 15 & 16 (see sidebar).