The City of Abbotsford is protesting Metro Vancouver’s sudden decision to jack the garbage tipping fee for the Matsqui transfer station from $109 to $150 a tonne – a 38 per cent increase.
The Metro Vancouver board passed a bylaw Friday to impose the Matsqui increase while also cutting tipping fees to $80 a tonne for haulers that dump large loads at other Metro transfer stations.
Metro officials claim they need the higher rate to get cost-recovery at Matsqui because of the flow of garbage to private transfer stations in Abbotsford.
Friday’s vote by Metro politicians passed despite a last-minute plea from Abbotsford.
“The new proposed 38 per cent rate increase results in an unbudgeted cost to Abbotsford of $190,000 for 2015,” Abbotsford solid waste engineering manager Barry Azevedo told Metro’s board.
“The rate increase is unfair, non-transparent, without consultation, with insufficient warning and not within the historic application of the agreement (between Abbotsford and Metro.)”
Azevedo said Abbotsford was blindsided by the surprise change in tipping fee because Metro had last October passed a 2015 tipping fee bylaw with only a one per cent increase.
The City of Abbotsford gave notice to Metro last fall it will stop using the Matsqui transfer station effective Nov. 1, 2015.
Azevedo said the “sudden detour” by Metro suggests the neighbouring regional district is “acting punitively and in bad faith” to punish Abbotsford for withdrawing from the transfer station agreement.
Besides the hit to Abbotsford of $190,000 this year, Azevedo projects Metro will also drive away other users of the Matsqui transfer station with the sharply higher tipping fee, resulting in a loss this year to Metro of nearly $600,000.
Metro’s rate cut at its other transfer stations is aimed at stopping the outflow of garbage from Metro to Abbotsford transfer stations and then south to be dumped in the U.S.
A major jump in outbound garbage in recent years has cut into the tipping fees Metro gets and the province last year blocked the regional district’s attempt to outlaw garbage exports.
Metro directors were critical of the provincial decision and the debate also touched on the risk of increased illegal dumping because of an increase in tipping fees for small loads dropped at other Metro transfer stations.
Opponents of Metro’s garbage waste-to-energy strategy claim Metro’s efforts to keep waste within that region is to ensure there’s fuel to feed a future new incinerator.