Vancouver City Council received a long-awaited report this morning that could open the door to a huge opportunity for our city to shine.
The report was a response to Metro Vancouver's power play a year ago, when out of the blue Commissioner Johnny Carline announced to the astonished politicians on the Waste Management Committee that Metro was abandoning a plan to build a new landfill in the Interior.
Instead, Metro was going to shut down the Vancouver Landfill and build a whole suite of brand new garbage incinerators.
This took the City of Vancouver by surprise. They own the Vancouver Landfill.
Vancouver staff immediately asked the Council of the day to authorize a comprehensive study of the "environmental, financial and regulatory" impacts of Metro's new proposal. The study's findings were the subject of the report made public today.
Not surprisingly the study found that taxpayers will take a hit of $700 million if we have to ship our garbage to Metro Vancouver's new incinerators (cost: up to $130/tonne) instead of burying it in our own facility (cost $20/tonne).
But the report conceded that our landfill currently performs worse than an incinerator, measured measured in greenhouse gas impacts. This is because of the methane produced when we bury food waste and other organic materials underground.
So Vancouver's challenge is this:
Can Mayor Robertson and his Council get behind a massive mobilization to get every last shred of organic material out of the City's landfill? Can we do this by February 2010? Can we come from behind and score Gold in the Zero Waste competition? Now that would be an Olympic legacy we could all benefit from...