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

Friday, July 11, 2008

Even Chair Hunt said the timing was "horrible"

Metro Vancouver Commissioner Johnny Carline slipped an item onto the Waste Management Committee's already packed agenda on Wednesday afternoon. Committee Chair Marvin Hunt headed the new agenda item "Waste Export."

But as it turned out, the 4-page on-table report that was put before the committee had two recommendations, and only the first related to waste export.

The second recommendation was to authorize a letter to go out to all municipalities in the region, over Marvin Hunt's signature, asking the Mayors and Councils to propose sites in their communities for waste-to-energy incinerators.

The proposed letter was attached to the report. It asked the Mayors and Councils to suggest "potential areas or specific sites, preferably under municipal ownership or control, where waste-to-energy infrastructure could be integrated into existing land use or proposed land development."

Because the report was introduced "on table" those of us in the peanut gallery didn't have it before us during the discussion that ensued. But it quickly became clear that several members of the committee had serious concerns about the optics of this recommendation.

The committee had just heard from New Westminster citizen Neil Powell that members of his residents' association were beginning to suspect that the decision to build incinerators was a "done deal," despite all the public reassurances from politicians that no final decisions had been made.

This letter, several committee members pointed out, would certainly lend credence to those suspicions. A motion was debated to receive the report for information rather than sending it on to the Board with their blessing.

In the end, the committee approved the recommendation with a minor and meaningless amendment (broadening the site usage to include "other technologies"). Four members of the committee voted nay and their names will be recorded in the minutes under Agenda Item 5.14.

What the Board does with this report is still to be seen.

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