Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie (left) chairs the Metro Vancouver zero waste committee. Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross opposes construction of any new garbage incinerator in the region.

Metro incineration consultants exit after ‘biased’ email

FVRD reps had voiced concern about firm overseeing waste-to-energy procurement

A consulting company overseeing Metro Vancouver’s waste-to-energy procurement process has withdrawn after the regional district decided the firm’s role was tainted by the emergence of an email showing “unacceptable bias” from a staff member.

Metro officials agreed HDR Corp.’s $1.9-million contract, which was up for likely renewal at the end of December, should end because of a May 18 email from a senior HDR staff member to a Metro manager.

“The email, if read on its face, seemed to indicate the possibility of a bias towards certain technologies,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who chairs Metro’s zero waste committee.

He would not say if the email showed preference towards mass-burn incineration or to one of a variety of other technologies that could be used in a new plant to burn 370,000 tonnes per year of Metro garbage.

Brodie said the email didn’t come to the attention of senior Metro managers until early November but officials then took “immediate action.”

He said Metro’s procurement process – now underway – was not compromised or inappropriately designed as a result of HDR’s work, adding the HDR staffer who sent the email didn’t have any technical involvement in the work.

Even a perception of bias couldn’t be allowed, he added.

“We’re under an obligation to have a fair and unbiased and complete and transparent process,” Brodie said.

He said a new consulting firm will be found to oversee the process.

Four independent experts have been selected to help guide the process and HDR was to oversee them.

Brodie wasn’t able to say how much money or time the change might cost taxpayers.

Metro is now inviting firms to propose technologies and later in 2013 it will ask short-listed firms and other property owners to propose sites. The region intends to send garbage to a new waste-to-energy plant or plants starting in 2018 and end shipments to the Cache Creek landfill.

A statement issued by HDR said the email could be perceived as attempting to influence the procurement process but adds that did not happen.

“The process was not influenced but we want to avoid any appearance of impropriety, so we asked Metro Vancouver to end our contract in the project’s best interest.”

Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) politicians have repeatedly accused Metro Vancouver of being biased in favour of building a new incinerator in the region – where they say it would worsen air pollution in the Valley – rather than fairly considering alternatives.

“Something just seems really fishy here,” Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross said.

She said she raised concerns about HDR with Metro months ago after they learned former Metro waste policy manager Ken Carrusca now works for the firm as its solid waste manager for western Canada.

The ex-manager had been involved in previous Metro-led consultations about waste-to-energy that FVRD reps charged were pro-incineration. HDR said Carrusca was not the sender of the email.

“We had a concern he was so closely tied to Metro Vancouver and this was supposed to be an independent firm with fresh eyes on the subject,” Ross said.

She said it’s frustrating Metro Vancouver accuses Valley politicians of playing on emotion rather than science, adding she believes their criticisms that incinerators are unsafe and likely unnecessary will be vindicated.

“We will prove them wrong in the end,” Ross said. “But my fear is ultimately, they’ll still build these things.”

 

ABOVE RIGHT: Former Metro Vancouver Integrated Planning Division Manager Ken Carrusca.

Just Posted

Incident involves border runners, car crash and backpacks with suspected meth

Man arrested after ruckus in Sumas and Abbotsford on Thursday night

Pilots post pair of wins

Teddies tossed early on Friday at MSA Arena

Your daily commute and weather forecast: Dec. 11, 2018

A full week of rain ahead, with 20-30 mm expected today. Heavy congestion along Highway 1

Provincial health tax may hit city budget, Abbotsford mayor warns

Scrapping MSPs for health tax could cost Abbotsford more than $1 million, report suggests

Students from 5 Abbotsford schools deliver treats to first responders

Kids thank paramedics, ER staff and firefighters for their service

VIDEO: Abbotsford BMX Race For Life

Highlights from the fundraiser event on Saturday

First Nation sues Alberta, says oilsands project threatens sacred site

Prosper Petroleum’s $440-million, 10,000-barrel-a-day plans have been vigorously opposed by Fort McKay

North Okanagan site of first RCMP naloxone test project

Free kits, training to be provided to high-risk individuals who spend time in cell blocks

More B.C. Indigenous students graduating high school: report

70% of Indigenous students graduated, compared to 86% across all B.C. students

2 facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog found in B.C.

Amy Hui-Yu Lin and Glenn Mislang have been charged with causing an animal to continue to be in distress

Out of the doghouse: B.C. city lifts ban on pup who barked too much at dog park

Cameron the Shetland sheepdog is allowed back into Uplands off-leash dog park under some conditions.

No flood of extremist returnees to Canada expected, federal report says

The report says some 190 people with connections to Canada are suspected of terrorist activity abroad

Canada-China relations turn icy over arrest of Chinese exec

The Huawei case has threatened to complicate U.S.-China efforts to resolve a bitter trade dispute.

Prosecutor signs off on former B.C. Liberal government’s quick-wins probe

David Butcher said in a statement released Monday that the RCMP recommended charges under the Elections Act

Most Read