Submitted. Metro Vancouver unveiled potential sites for a garbage incinerator to be constructed inside their airshed which is shared with the Fraser Valley. The FVRD unequivocally opposes Metro Vancouver’s proposal. The FVRD’s primary concern is that Metro Vancouver’s proposed incinerator will significantly degrade air quality for human health¹, agriculture, environment and livability in both regions but particularly for the nearly 300,000 B.C. residents who live in the mountainous Fraser Valley, which is shaped like a funnel. So as the valley narrows from the west to east, air movement and pollutant dispersion is restricted. Due to coastal wind patterns, pollutants originating in the west and south are often pushed to the upper parts of the valley where they become trapped by the wall of mountains.
Those geographical and meteorological challenges further enable the transportation of pollutants into the valley, of which, 57 percent come from Metro Vancouver, 29 percent from Whatcom County and 14 percent from within. Along with being B.C.’s breadbasket, that sees the Fraser Valley produce 49 percent of the province’s food including dairy, corn, greenhouse vegetables, poultry and berries, the valley is also perfectly situated to tap into B.C.’s growing nature-based tourism sector².
“In spite of our attempts at imploring Metro Vancouver politicians for meaningful consultation, our fears have come to fruition—they have chosen the most antiquated and ineffective method to eliminate their regions’ garbage that will cost their tax payers an estimated $500 million, will increase air pollution and will negatively affect the health of citizens in both regions,” Sharon Gaetz, Chair, Fraser Valley Regional District, said.
Gaetz, added, “It is unfortunate it has come to this but as we move forward, FVRD will pursue all options available to us, including but not limited to, a legal challenge to prohibit the construction of another incinerator in order to ensure protection of residents, future generations and nearly half of the province’s food source, grown in the green Fraser Valley.”
A new incinerator will generate 171,000 tonnes of carcinogenic ash a year—that is equivalent to 17,100 dump truck loads. Metro Vancouver’s tipping fees have increased 60 percent since 2006³. Multinational corporations profiting from incineration receive long-term contracts of up to 25-years. That means Metro Vancouver tax payers would need to feed incineration if there is not enough garbage to burn.
The estimated cost for an advanced materials recovery facility is $25 million. Such a facility would lead to job creation and is a global trend in acceptance by those countries turning away from incineration such as Denmark.
“On behalf of the FVRD Board we are elated at the City of Vancouver’s position against incineration and look forward to discussing true zero waste solutions with these good neighbors. The City of Vancouver’s position further supports their laudable aspiration to become the greenest city in the world by 2020,” Gaetz said.
Citizens in both regions now have to sit up and take action by contacting their Member of the Legislative Assembly. “Proclaim it loud and clear that burning garbage is not a twenty-first century solution,” Gaetz added.
Contact information for Members of the Legislative Assembly can be found at http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-7.htm and for Metro Vancouver Board of Directors at http://www.metrovancouver.org/boards/BoardMembersPageDocs/Board_Directors_Contact_Information.pdf
²Data from Statistics Canada found that with a 17 percent growth rate, rural Metro-adjacent communities had the highest percent increase of tourism employment of all regions from 1996-2003. Beshiri, Roland, Tourism Employment in Rural Canada. Rural & Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin (Statistics Canada) Vol. 5 No. 8, January 2005