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

Friday, August 7, 2009

Board of Trade speakers blast Metro study!

While I was away this summer the Vancouver Board of Trade convened a forum on Metro's waste situation. It can't have been a good day for Metro.

Both speakers sharply criticized the regional waste authority's current direction to build huge new waste incinerators. Economist Jeffrey Morris challenged Metro's assumptions about future waste volumes (Metro is basing its plan on a forecast of 75% recycling, while Morris says higher rates are possible).

Morris also stressed the need for the plan to include effective economic instruments to drive waste reduction, which will yield much better outcomes in the long run than infrastructure that competes against recycling (incinerators have to be fed...). See Morris's PPT here.

But most damning was the critique by accounting firm KPMG's Paul Levelton. He focused his remarks on the new study that Metro released last June (see the full AECOM Report here, or the Executive Summary here).

Levelton's presentation must have been humiliating not only for the report's authors (who include, incredibly, an appointed member of Metro's advisory panel on waste ~ talk about conflict of interest!) and also for the Metro employees who presumably reviewed and approved its release to the Board.

Levelton's presentation reads like the margin notes of a tough professor, pointing out elementary errors and omissions in a lazy student's work.

He opens with the statement: "a review of the recently released report by AECOM Metro Vancouver raises significant concerns that insufficient work has been done to make a decision on the future of waste management in the Lower Mainland, including an apparent preference for a waste to energy solution."

For instance, there's no financial risk analysis. There are no criteria for comparing different options. There is simply not enough information for the public to make meaningful comments or, most important, for political leaders to make informed decisions.

Levelton warned his audience that businesses in the region will bear more than half of the costs of Metro's ultimate scheme. He suggests ~ hopefully? ~ that there's still time for Metro to re-write the paper and get a passing grade.

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