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Waste-to-energy fight 'isn't over': Regional opposition to incineration

Abbotsford councillors on Fraser Valley Regional District board vow they’ll continue to oppose new Metro incineration in the Lower Mainland. -
Abbotsford councillors on Fraser Valley Regional District board vow they’ll continue to oppose new Metro incineration in the Lower Mainland.
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by Robert Freeman, Black Press

Fraser Valley Regional District directors voted to cooperate with Metro Vancouver at a special board meeting Tuesday and take part in consultations on possible waste-to-energy facilities.

But that doesn’t mean the fight is over to stop Metro Vancouver’s plan to burn garbage.

“We’ve lost round one, but the fight isn’t over,” Abbotsford director John Smith said at the board meeting.

“We also lost round one in the fight against SE2,” he added, but eventually defeated the proposed diesel-powered electricity plant in Sumas, Washington in 2006 after a groundswell of opposition by Fraser Valley residents.

He called Metro Vancouver’s plan to burn garbage using WTE technology “a financial disaster waiting to happen” and predicted that in the end no incineration plants will be built in the Lower Mainland.

Abbotsford Mayor George Peary brought the issue to the board in a letter to FVRD chair Patricia Ross, following her reaction in media reports to B.C. environment minister Terry Lake’s approval last week of Metro Vancouver’s solid waste management plan.

Ross had told reporters that no matter what technology is used, the Fraser Valley airshed cannot afford another source of pollution, and urged residents to “bombard” the minister with emails of opposition.

But Peary said that “accusatory approach” won’t help the FVRD achieve its goals, and could have a negative impact on the region’s economy.

“I do not advocate an approach which calls for protests and speaks negatively of our provincial politicans,” he said, but a “thoughtful strategy on how we respond to the approval.”

The environment minister’s approval included provisions for consultations between Metro Vancouver and the FVRD, along with creation of working groups to address air quality concerns.

Mission Mayor James Atebe agreed the FVRD needs to have input into Metro Vancouver’s plan, but he called on the minister to define exactly what he meant by “consultations” and to find a way to pay for the region’s participation in the talks.

Yale director Dennis Adamson didn’t agree with the idea of letting the larger Metro Vancouver regional district walk all over the smaller FVRD and build its WTE facilities.

“I don’t think we should shut up,” he said. “I think we should scream and yell ... this is no time to be quiet.”

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