Les Turns Incinerator Opposition into Cash

John Les Lands A Job With Belkorp
Fraser Valley residents may have a bit better idea where all of the political opposition to garbage incineration in Vancouver is coming from now that it has been revealed that John Les has registered as a lobbyist for Belkorp, the parent company of Wastech Services, which is the Metro Vancouver-contracted operator of the Cache Creek Landfill.

The revelations came on TheTyee.ca website Wednesday in an article by Bob Mackin,

[excerpt] John Les, who retired as the MLA for Chilliwack before May’s election, filed Aug. 8 with the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists to lobby for Belkorp Environmental Services Inc. through Aug. 1, 2014. Les’s intended outcomes are to discuss solid-waste management, promote recycling operations and oppose garbage incineration in the Fraser Valley air-shed.

Les’s first and only target contact is Environment Minister Mary Polak, but Les declined to tell The Tyee whether they had spoken on the topic.
[source] [excerpt] Former Chilliwack mayor Les was elected a Liberal MLA in 2001, 2005 and 2009. In the final week of the latter campaign, Les appeared at a Chilliwack photo opportunity with Environment Minister Barry Penner where Wastech announced it successfully delivered garbage from Vancouver to Cache Creek in a liquefied natural gas-powered truck. The company wanted to use bio-gas sourced from the Cache Creek dump to power its entire fleet but is now planning to connect a methane-burning power plant to the BC Hydro grid instead.

Les wouldn’t say how much Belkorp is paying for his services. The 12-year MLA stands to receive a $48,289 annual pension in less than four years when he turns 65. After his final term ended in April, he became immediately eligible for 15 months of transitional assistance based on the full MLA annual pay of $101,859.

Chilliwack Mayor and current FVRD Chair Sharon Gaetz

Chilliwack Mayor and current FVRD Chair Sharon Gaetz

Councillor and former FVRD Chair Patricia Ross

Councillor and former FVRD Chair Patricia Ross

While the fight to stop Vancouver from converting its waste to garbage has drawn a great deal of support in communities such as Abbotsford and Chilliwack, where Les and municipal politicians like Mayor Sharon Gaetz from Chilliwack and Councillor Patricia Ross from Abbotsford have fought for clean air in the valley as key parts of the political platforms, the science behind the case for driving garbage to Cache Creek is far from certain.

Now that Les has been shown to be making money off of his political position on the environment, Gaetz and Ross may have to distance themselves from him or at the very least demonstrate they have no pecuniary interest in their political positions lest they do damage to the cause they claim to represent.

All three politicians have been Chair of the Fraser Valley regional District (FVRD) and presided over the FVRD’s support of the gravel industry’s invasion and takeover of Sumas Mountain, the Chilliwack River Valley, and other environmentally sensitive areas such as Lake Errock over the vocal opposition of environmentalists and local land owners.

All three claim to care deeply about the environment are have built their political careers largely on that basis.

For the record: The 2001 Environment Canada Air Quality Study Lower Mainland Airshed showed that the real reason for the white haze in the Fraser Valley during summer inversions has more to do with cow belches and farts than Patty’s kind of pollution.

We pulled a column from the vault published in 2010 on this exact subject. Nothing has changed. Patty still doesn’t understand the environment except as a political devise to keep herself well fed at the public trough. She hasn’t even changed her strategy of constantly equating Vancouver’s waste to energy project to SE2 except that she now says it is ‘worse’ than SE2.

‘SE2 All Over Again’ – If Only, Patricia … If Only

-July 31, 2010

By Mike Archer. Abbotsford’s environmental councillor, Patricia Ross has blown a gasket over Metro Vancouver’s decision, despite all her bogus science, to go ahead and turn their garbage into energy by building a waste-to-energy incinerator.

“This is SE2 all over again,” Ross told the Abbotsford News yesterday.

Councillor Patricia Ross

Like a chicken with her head cut off Patricia is fighting this issue as though her very life depended on it because, in her simple world, air is good – smoke is bad, make it all go away. The environment is nice; people vote for the environment so I support the environment.

She doesn’t care if she’s right or wrong she just believes in SE2 and what it did for her career.

Give her credit, her friends at the Fraser Valley Conservancy and the Abbotsford Community Foundation, who ensure she gets re-elected every three years, will rejoice at the thought of another ‘SE2 Battle’ but what impact will her delusions have on the taxpayers of Abbotsford?

Just two weeks ago Abbotsford Council voted not to support Metro’s incineration plans but both Mayor George Peary and Councillor John Smith had reservations.

Since Abbotsford pays Vancouver to accept our garbage Peary indicated he was ‘“reluctant to tell them how to run their business.”

Taking a more philosophical tone, Councillor John Smith said,“As a customer, we will pay. I fear we will pay somehow, some way.”

Ross then weighed in reportedly saying that the financial impact of the decision was important to note. No kidding Patricia. Glad you noticed.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson

Delta Mayor and GVRD Chair Lois Jackson reportedly told Ross at a public meeting of Lower Mainland mayors on waste management May 1, that, as far as SE2 was concerned, “It was a U.S. facility with no benefit to Canada, only an impact to Canada. We said to SE2, Please go away.“You can’t say to garbage, “Please go away.”

As Chair of the FVRD Ross has allowed an asphalt plant to receive approval in Sumas, she has approved of paving the Discovery Trail through Abbotsford wilderness and has allowed a massive gravel pit operation to slip through an FVRD loophole in the pristine Chilliwack River Valley against the wishes of residents. Hardly the record of an environmentalist.

She supported the raping of Sumas mountain by the gravel companies which produce clouds of gravel dust that is visible from as far away as Chilliwack.

Her research on garbage incineration has been shown to be bogus. She doesn’t even have a reasonable explanation why she opposes Vancouver’s plans other than the fact that the fight against SE2 made her popular, so fighting something similar should work for her too.

“Abbotsford Mayor George Peary is dubious of the KPMG numbers because the study was paid for by Belcorp, operators of the Cache Creek landfill.” – Black Press

Abbotsford Taxpayer

Mayor Peary seems more worried about the possible irreparable damage in the relationship with Metro Vancouver than fighting political battles for the sake of one councillor’s political future.


It’s time Patricia faced up to the facts and started acting as a councillor who is paid to look after the interests of the people who pay her wage.

Stop approving vanity projects that are bankrupting the city. Pay attention to the environmental costs when you cave to the gravel lobby or pave Abbotsford’s forests. Start looking after the interests of your employers – the taxpayers of Abbotsford.

If Ross really believes her battle with the GVRD is another SE2 she will waste an enormous amount of time and energy, for which we are paying, trying to slay dragons that don’t need slaying.

The simple fact is that as contributors to the Vancouver garbage she wants to fob off on somebody else, we have to come to terms with the amount of waste we create and stop shipping it elsewhere. Waste-to-energy incineration is one important step on that path but we can no longer ignore the trash we create just by giving it to someone else to deal with.

Her views have been noted. She gets full marks from those who fund her and support her. Now she should start acting like a grownup and do her job – managing the affairs of the taxpayers of Abbotsford with our interests at heart – and stop posturing on an issue she clearly doesn’t understand in a shameless bid to get re-elected.

For a look at the research by both parties to date see the following:

Research, Sources and Background:
We did what we could to provide as many useful links for those who want to look into the matter further.

2001 Environment Canada Air Quality Study Lower Mainland Airshed

Douw Steyn
Douw Steyn
Funding canceled

Ryley Landfill

Critique of Waste To Energy Proposals:Incinerators – Waste-to-Energy Proposals in the Watershed Sentinel by Joyce Nelson.

Fraser Valley Regional District Research:
Consolidated FV Management Plan 1998 PDF
Best Management Practices and emission inventory of agricultural sources in the Lower Fraser Valley
State of the air Reports
Dr Ian Mckendry Report-Air Quality in the Fraser Valley
Particulate Emissions and Health – Prf C. Vyvyan Howarrd

Metro Vancouver Research:
Solid Waste Planning
Landfill Evaluation 2008 PDF
Implementation Matrix PDF
Solid Waste Management Full Report PDF
Draft Solid Waste Implementation Plan 2010 PDF

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