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Waste-to-energy plan fails to win MLA's support

Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen doesn’t believe incineration is the answer to the Lower Mainland’s garbage problem.

Despite the decision by Minister of Environment Terry Lake to endorse Metro Vancouver’s regional waste plan – which includes incineration – van Dongen maintains his stand.

“I’m not convinced there aren’t other options that are better for the environment and the economy,” he said.

Van Dongen said it is important to ask questions and seek accountability from Metro on environmental and economic issues surrounding its plan.

“I always had the distinct impression that Metro Vancouver had a predisposition or bias towards waste-to-energy, right from the start,” he said.

He’s not convinced by Metro’s statistics and wants “a proper, blank-page analysis” on all the possible options.

Metro’s plan includes a waste-to-energy plant, built either in the Lower Mainland or possibly on Vancouver Island. It also calls for an aggressive push for more recycling and composting.

Waste-to-energy is the process of burning garbage and harnessing the energy created to offset the use of fossil fuels.

Proponents say it is cost-effective and helps the environment. Those opposed to the option are concerned the process will introduce more pollution and toxins into the Fraser Valley air shed.

The concern over the valley’s air is not new to van Dongen, who fought the threat of SE2. Sumas Energy 2 was a proposed natural gas power plant to be constructed near the Canadian border, in Sumas Wash. It was defeated in 2005 after a huge public outcry over the emissions it would release.

The environment is just one of the issues concerning van Dongen.

He said the financial implication is huge, especially the half billion dollars needed in capital.

“Then you are fully invested and dependent of the waste stream to keep on running.”

But van Dongen said incineration is still a long way away.

“There is lots of time” he said, noting the minister set out some significant conditions.

“I think there are a lot of hurdles to be met before it becomes a reality ... My hope is that it doesn’t become a reality in the Lower Mainland.”

Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes and Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong and Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes were unavailable for comment.

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