Consultation will “absolutely” take place between Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), promises Greg Moore, Metro’s board chair, in regard to the solid-waste management plan that includes the possibility of waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies.
The FVRD has been vocal in its opposition of WTE because of environmental concerns regarding toxins that could be released into the valley’s air shed.
Last year, Minister of Environment Terry Lake approved Metro’s plan, but ordered the two groups to consult over various aspects of the plan – including the location of a WTE plant. No consultation has yet occurred.
In an article carried in a national publication earlier this month, Moore noted that Metro would be looking for expressions of interest and requests for proposals (RFP), starting the end of March.
Some representatives of the FVRD were disappointed by the news and have sent a letter to the province, requesting assistance to bring Metro to the table for discussions.
Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman called Metro’s tactics “bullying” and said the valley was ready to fight.
But Moore said nothing unusual is going on.
“We are not moving ahead on the proposal process without engaging with the Fraser Valley Regional District. Our neighbours are too important to us,” said Moore.
“We haven’t started the first phase of the RFP process. It hasn’t come to a committee yet. It hasn’t come to a board yet … when we do get to the stage when it comes out of a staff working file and into a public process, the FVRD will definitely be a part of that process.”
Moore said the March reference in the article is merely a starting point.
“We hope to start the process by that time. A process will start with a request for expressions of interest first, because I think there is a lot of interest in this project.”
After the expressions are received, Moore said they will be evaluated and narrowed down to three or four.
“Those are the ones that make the final RFP process. And that in itself will take months and months, probably a year-long process.”
At this point, Moore said all that is being asked is for companies with experience in WTE technologies to “make themselves known” to Metro.
As for Banman’s comments on a lack of consultation, Moore did not get into a battle of words.
“He can have his opinion, but we can look at the last two years – well one year the ministry had it – so let’s look at the one year that Metro Vancouver had it … let’s use that as the example of consultation that occurred … we had four meetings in the Fraser Valley Regional District.”
He noted the municipal election in November and the fact that both boards have elected new chairs, as some of the reasons for a limited recent exchange. He also noted that the Metro waste committee hadn’t met since the first week of November.
“Part of our plan is to engage with the FVRD throughout the whole process … We want to make sure that we have some clear definitions of what we are all looking at and just don’t engage for the sake of having a conversation … really have some tangibles we can talk about.”