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

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Province sends Metro Vancouver back to the drawing board

The province has sent Johnny Carline back to square one in the regional waste planning process. This might protect elected officials from embarrassment in the upcoming civic elections ~ and even buy time for a good plan to come forward.

This blog reported last month that Carline narrowly averted a rebellion by the Waste Management Committee when he proposed sending a letter out to municipal councils seeking sites for incinerators ~ before "waste-to-energy" has even been sanctioned as a strategy for our region. The letter was narrowly approved by the Committee, with vocal misgivings voiced by several members.

The following day Carline travelled to Victoria to meet with the province and it was there that he got his come-uppance, it would seem.

In a report that was hastily written and distributed to Metro Board members mere hours before their last scheduled meeting on July 18, Carline recommended that the Board ignore its Committee's advice and, instead, adopt recommendations inspired by an "extremely constructive and extended dialogue" with the province.

Carline's report admits that "recent public discussion on waste to energy and the prospect of discussing potential siting at this time had raised the same misgivings at the provincial level as they had at the regional level."

The extended dialogue between Carline and ministry staff resulted in a new process for developing the waste plan, one that involves more consultation with the public as well as "a report by an outside consultant assessing the relative characteristics and merits of landfills and waste to energy" for waste that can't be recycled. The province also wants Metro Vancouver to "develop a report setting out the strategies and actions... to achieve a 70% diversion target by 2015."

When this report was put on the table for discussion on July 18, it raised additional questions of process. Many of the Directors had not even seen it. Some who had seen it objected to Carline trying to over-ride the Committee's advice. Still others expressed the view that the province shouldn't be butting into the region's business. In the end, the decision was deferred to a special meeting of the GVS&DD Board on July 25. At that meeting, reportedly, the recommendation was approved.

Now the politicians are off duty until September. When they come back, we'll be gearing up for civic elections. Zero Waste Vancouver will be organizing a campaign to make sure all candidates disclose where they stand on waste-to-energy incineration. See the Zero Waste Vancouver position paper here.

No comments: