At 9:30 tomorrow morning Vancouver City Council will receive another strongly worded report from Tom Timm, the City's General Manager of Engineering Services, about Metro Vancouver's increasingly controversial waste management plan.
In a January report, Timm flagged a provision in the just-announced draft regional plan to double the burden on the Vancouver landfill while the region tries to site waste incinerators. This resulted in a rushed motion by the Metro Vancouver Board to seek approval to export waste to the US if necessary.
Now Timm is recommending to Council that it take a political stand along with other municipalities in the region to block the juggernaut regional waste planning process, which has been fast-tracked to drive home a completed plan by the autumn.
Timm suggests the process may not be compliant with the Ministry of Environment's requirements for amending regional waste plans because of its "very abbreviated and superficial consultation process with stakeholders and the public." The last waste plan took four years to complete.
Vancouver is really concerned that Metro's plan would effectively shut down the Vancouver Landfill by 2020, seventeen years early.
This would cost the city significant future revenues from the landfill. The operating cost is $20 while the disposal fee is $68. Metro, Vancouver and Delta share the profits under the provisions of a Tripartite Agreement.
But switching from landfilling to incineration would significantly raise waste disposal costs for every municipality in the region. The regional rate for each tonne of garbage will double.
"There has been no technical, scientific or engineering analyses conducted to support the proposal that waste-to-energy (WTE) s the sole appropriate strategy for handling all of the region's solid waste," the report says.
"There has been no analysis of the sensitivity of the operating costs for WTE to the quantity of waste processed. The significant capital expenditures for WTE facilities also require consideration."
Politicians at the regional Waste Management Committee last week were grilling Metro Vancouver staff about these same concerns. With civic elections on the horizon, they may not want to be committing billions of dollars on projects that are not tested technically, let alone politically.