COLUMN: Nothing like a breath of fresh air

Many trees have already lost their leaves, though most in the yard are hanging on grimly to their foliage...

As I write this column, the rain pelts down. Many trees have already lost their leaves, though most in the yard are hanging on grimly to their foliage, waiting it seems to drop them all at once. The subsequent festooning of the lawn – too much to mulch with the mower or pick up with the grass sweeper – will require hours of raking and disposal.

As fall quickly passes into what certainly seems like winter, with single digit temperatures in the morning, and skeins of Canada geese honking overhead on their way south during the past couple of weeks, I regret not spending more time in the province’s interior during the splendor of fall. However, even there it was still summery a couple of weeks ago, the trees still green from lack of frost which would have transformed them into brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow. And now it’s snowing in the high country – the Canyon and the Coquihalla suddenly changed from scenic drives to scary ventures.

Time to cocoon and keep fires burning in the hearth. Then a guy from FedEx, wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, shows up at the door with a parcel.

Time, I realize, to buck up, accept that down here on the wet coast, as bad as it seems isn’t really that bad at all. Yes, the rain seems incessant but it’s not bone-chilling cold, and maybe if the sun comes back for a few days, perhaps one more trip into the backwoods before the lakes ice up is in the offing.

Even if I don’t manage to get there, what with all the leaf raking, etc., at least for a while I’ll still be able to breathe a little easier, thanks to the provincial government rejecting Bylaw 280 and sending Metro Vancouver back to the drawing board with its plans for garbage disposal.

Bylaw 280 would have required all garbage generated from Howe Sound to Abbotsford’s borders – the essential confines of Metro Vancouver – be kept in the region. The reason for the bylaw is that it would ensure there was sufficient fuel to fire its huge proposed incinerator, which I’m convinced, despite the proponents protestations to the contrary, would contribute significant pollution to the air we breathe.

Greater Vancouver likes to claim it is the “greenest” city complex, and thanks to onshore winds 90 per cent of the time it would continue to be, while contaminating the air shed of everyone living to the east of it. A bit hypocritical don’t you think, when the motive for Bylaw 280 was to turn as much garbage as possible into an electrical power generation money-tree?

I thought being green was respecting the environment, and recycling up to 90 per cent of the waste generated. Not burning as much trash as possible to make a buck to offset the cost of real green initiatives.

It is also interesting that Belkorp has just released a study that suggests Metro’s desired incinerator could cost up to $1.3 billion more to construct, and that Metro’s hoped for $100 per kilowatt hour revenue stream may be over-inflated.

For the record, it has to be noted that Belkorp has a vested interest. It operates the Cache Creek landfill where most of Metro’s non-recyclables now end up. Obviously, it also wants to maintain its revenues, as does I’m sure the village of Cache Creek which benefits directly from jobs and possibly municipal taxes.

The bottom line is that private companies exist, at least in the U.S., which can recycle at a profit virtually all waste without burning any of it.

If the politicians of Metro could look beyond their dreams of revenue generation, and seek out other more environmentally friendly alternatives available in the private sector, perhaps in the Fraser Valley we could all breathe a little easier, for a long time to come.