MLA John Les furious at Vancouver’s incinerator plans

Chilliwack MLA John Les is furious at Metro Vancouver's incinerator plans, saying there is still a tough environmental review process ahead.

Chilliwack MLA John Les

Chilliwack MLA John Les

Chilliwack MLA John Les is furious at Metro Vancouver’s waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerator plans, and says the Greater Vancouver Regional District has forgotten that the project would still need to pass a stringent provincial environmental review process.

Last month, GVRD Waste Committee Chair Malcolm Brodie told the media that “Whether people like it or not, that decision has been made,” referring to the wast-to-energy facility.

Les finds Brodie’s “belligerent” and “arrogant” comments inappropriate.

“It exposed on (Brodie’s) part a few factors that he seems to have forgotten…that whatever process (GVRD members) choose ultimately has to go through a complete provincial environmental review process. He seems to have conveniently, for now at least, brushed that out of the way as if that doesn’t matter,” says Les.

B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake confirmed in Chilliwack in March 2012 that Fraser Valley residents will have the opportunity for “full input” into the incinerator’s environmental assessment process.

“We know that air quality is a critical issue for residents of the Fraser Valley, so we wanted to assure people that whatever proposal comes forward (at Metro Vancouver) that it will undergo the most rigourous environmental review possible in B.C.,” he said.

The WTE project’s third party expert review panel rejected Fraser Valley Regional District’s request for a seat in Dec., instead establishing a political liaison committee with space for an FVRD representative.

FVRD chair Sharon Gaetz believes the exclusion of FVRD from the panel is a mistake.

“We have qualified engineers on staff, and we have people who could really inform the process around choosing components for technology. They would be asking the right questions around technologies,” Gaetz told the Chilliwack Progress two weeks ago. “When you’re burning plastics that creates a toxic soup, we want to make sure that the technology that (GVRD members) propose, if they propose to do it in region, will work.”

Les believes that Fraser Valley residents will be watching the environmental review process “like a hawk,” and thinks the incinerator not only threatens the Fraser Valley air shed, but also represents poor public policy for Greater Vancouver tax-payers.

“The half-billion dollar cost of this potential project really has the beginnings of boondoggle written all over it,” says Les.

If GVRD really wants to improve the environment, Les says, it should shut down the Burns Bog landfill site in Delta, which Les sees, and sometimes smells, weekly on his drive to Victoria.

“I see the mountain growing in the middle of Burns Bog, and…it’s terribly inapropriate to have the largest landfill in British Columbia in the middle of a bog that some environmentalists reverently refer to as ‘the lungs of the lower mainland.'”

The site is a “cash cow” for Vancouver, he says, with the city receiving “many millions of dollars per year” for its operation.

akonevski@theprogress.com
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