A load of garbage is lifted inside Metro Vancouver's waste incinerator in south Burnaby. Metro wants to ban commercial haulers from taking garbage out of the region.

A load of garbage is lifted inside Metro Vancouver's waste incinerator in south Burnaby. Metro wants to ban commercial haulers from taking garbage out of the region.

Metro Vancouver politicians peer into recycling abyss, warn of landfilling ‘Plan B’

Defeat on Bylaw 280 may bring higher property taxes, return to landfilling strategy, mayors warn

Metro Vancouver property taxes might have to go up if the province won’t approve the regional district’s controversial ban on trucking garbage to unauthorized landfills outside the region.

That scenario was raised at Metro’s waste committee Thursday by directors who said it’s time to consider a backup plan if Victoria won’t endorse Bylaw 280, which was passed nearly a year ago but still awaits the environment minister’s okay.

The regulation would stop commercial waste haulers from trucking Metro-area garbage first to Abbotsford and then sending it to U.S. landfills, skirting disposal bans here and avoiding Metro tipping fees.

Metro’s lost tipping fees are estimated at $11 million this year alone and officials predict haulers who avoid paying them will use their cost advantage to win more commercial hauling business, resulting in even more garbage flowing east in the years ahead.

North Vancouver District Coun. Roger Bassam said Metro might have to shift much of the cost of its waste management system directly onto property taxes “so we can drive the tipping fees down to the point where there is no economic incentive to leave the region and win the battle that way.”

Solid waste manager Paul Henderson said the region is starting to look at its options if Bylaw 280 is rejected.

He said shifting away from the user-funded garbage disposal system would bring disadvantages.

Metro currently charges $108 per tonne to dispose of garbage but much less for recyclables, creating a powerful incentive to separate them.

That tipping fee will rise $1 next year but officials say they can go no further due to competition from out of region.

If tipping fees were slashed to compete with eastbound haulers, Henderson said, there would be less incentive to recycle.

He noted Ontario’s commercial waste haulers aren’t bound by the same rules as residents and as a result the commercial sector’s recycling rate there is 13 per cent, compared to 39 per cent in Metro.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said defeat on Bylaw 280 would likely force Metro to revert to a landfilling strategy and abandon its plans to build a potential second incinerator to capture more energy from waste.

“There is a Plan B but it’s so unpleasant and it reverses everything we are doing,” he said. “We stop the aggressive recycling we do and we accept the alternative is landfilling.”

Corrigan said it would mean abandoning the user-pay principle in favour of taxpayers subsidizing the worst waste offenders who refuse to recycle.

“We will lose our reputation as a world leader in this area,” he predicted, adding numerous green recycling businesses that have sprung up will fail if the recyclables they process end up in dumps instead.

Opponents of Bylaw 280 contend Metro’s motive is to keep garbage penned up inside the region to feed a new incinerator.

“We find it outrageous that Metro Vancouver wants to use the taxpayers as hostages basically and threaten the province that property taxes have to go up,” said Lori Bryan, executive director of the Waste Management Association of B.C.

“They’re forcing the taxpayers and businesses to pay for their inefficiencies and to pay for the incinerator that nobody wants.”

Bryan said proposed mixed-waste material recovery facilities, which sort recyclables from garbage ahead of final disposal, could play an important role in retrieving more material that now goes to landfills or incineration.

Judy Rudin, spokesperson for Rabanco, a Washington State landfill receiving much of the outbound Metro waste, said Metro mayors are scaremongering with talk of dire consequences for recycling.

Other critics say waste flow control will let Metro sharply raise tipping fees to pay for a new incinerator, tentatively estimated to cost $517 million.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said she hopes to hand down a decision on Bylaw 280 in the next few weeks.

“It’s a very substantial shift,” she said. “I want to be certain that any decision we make is not going to have unintended consequences.”

Metro estimates 100,000 tonnes of garbage is currently being hauled east to avoid its tipping fees, up from 50,000 in 2012.

Various business groups, including the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, have opposed Bylaw 280.

Supporters include many Metro recycling businesses.

A planned renewable energy utility on Burnaby Mountain powered by wood waste biomass may also be thwarted if the bylaw is blocked, said Simon Fraser University Community Trust president Gordon Harris.

“If the region were to continue to allow haulers to ship garbage away unsorted, we – like other green energy businesses – would be at risk of losing our feedstock, rendering an environmentally beneficial operation uneconomic,” he said in a letter to Polak.

Just Posted

Country music star Chris Lane stops in Abbotsford next February. (Submitted)
Country music star Chris Lane coming to Abbotsford

Multi-platinum artist bringing ‘Fill Them Boots’ to Abbotsford Centre on Feb. 19, 2022

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

The intersection of Blueridge Drive and Blue Jay Street is one of three intersections in Abbotsford approved for traffic lights this year. (Google Street View)
Traffic signals approved at 3 Abbotsford intersections

Projects part of $1.45M in road upgrades around community

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

An apartment building and townhouse project has been proposed at 2236 McCallum Rd. in Abbotsford. The development was given third reading by city council on June 14. (City of Abbotsford)
Apartment-and-townhouse project planned on McCallum Road in Abbotsford

Development across from old hospital site consists of 174 suites and 10 townhouses

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read