Things appear to be in complete disarray over at Metro Vancouver.
At last week's meeting of the waste committee, Commissioner Johnny Carline did the same thing he did several years ago when he was trying to steer through a 100-year landfill in Ashcroft without public support. He suddenly laid on politicians a recommendation that seemed to completely contradict all his previous advice.
In both cases, politicians were put in a very awkward position. They were confused, divided, and incapable of governing confidently.
In the earlier instance Carline called an unscheduled meeting of the waste committee (December 7, 2004). There was only one item on the agenda: a last-minute recommendation during the environmental assessment process (EAO) to add a second liner to the proposed landfill at an additional cost of $20 million, even though politicians had been assured all along that a single liner would suffice. Here is what I recorded as the comment by Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan:
"I don’t like being ambushed like this at such a late stage here in the EAO process. These are exactly the kinds of decisions that I don’t want to make at the last minute. If the science-based decision was right, then I don’t want to spend $20 million just for political reasons. There is no way we’ll satisfy the opponents of the landfill with this. This action could be used by the opponents as evidence that the costs will be more than we thought for the landfill. If the science-based decision was wrong, then why didn’t staff bring it to us earlier? Why couldn’t staff provide an accurate budget earlier. Maybe we should be evaluating whether the project should go forward at all."
Pitt Meadows' Don Maclean also voted against Carline's recommendation.
When the recommendation went to the Metro Board later that month, it provoked more anguished discussion and then failed. The Board actually voted against their CAOs recommendation.
Last week, after piles of "scientific" evidence supporting the development of an in-region incinerator, Carline suddenly recommended to the waste committee that the plan be amended to allow an out-of-region incinerator as a back-up option.
Again, there was much confusion at the table. Read about it in Jeff Nagel's coverage for Black Press.
No wonder the Minister intervenes!