To hear the travellers tell, Sweden is a perfect fairy tale land where everything is harmoniously integrated through "systems thinking." A cheery sort of Escheresque community in which waste is tranformed into pure energy. It was all summed up in diagrams that the travellers brought home and put up on the screen: "Symbio-City."
Waste incineration in Sweden happens in clean buildings that fit right into the urban landscape. (The buildings have smokestacks, but, the delgation was told with wry Swedish humour, the smokestacks serve no purpose. They were just put there to comply with quaint rules that were written before technology advanced.)
"We saw a different culture there," testified Metro engineer Ken Carrusca, who was along on the trip, "People carry their own ceramic plates." In one travel photo, West Van Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones is indeed seen picnicking in a park holding a tray with a china cup and plate.
So what can we learn from their visit? How do we transform ourselves from rude louts who line up at Tim Horton drive-throughs and pitch our cups into landfills, into citizens worth of living in magical Symbio-Cities like the ones in Sweden?
The answer, it was clearly implied, is that politicians must exert "political will."
They must show leadership and overcome their constituents' strong misgivings about waste incineration. You can bet that there will be a full-court press this summer to nurture Sweden-envy in our populace.
Pic: Lego Escher impossible staircase