By Mike Archer. Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) Chair and Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz as well as Abbotsford Councillor Patricia Ross and all of their followers will no doubt feel that the decision by the BC Utilities Commission to approve Metro Vancouver’s plans for a Waste to Energy incinerator is a big loss.
It is now time for both politicians to commit to building sustainable communities in the Fraser Valley which stop contributing so much to the pollution in our airshed.
Both politicians have understood and taken advantage of the manufactured crisis they built on the fears of environmentalists and average citizens. They tried to convince us by Metro Vancouver taking a major step towards reducing the amount of waste it dumps in landfills by trucking it through the Fraser Valley in diesel-spewing double semi-trailers every day Metro was putting our airshed at risk.
The B.C. Utiities Commission has finally put paid to that tiresome argument and we can move on.
Now that we can finally kiss goodbye to the massive infusion of greenhouse gases from the garbage convoys, it is time we focus our efforts where they will really make a difference.
Politicians in the Fraser Valley have, for more than 20 years, been single-minded in their belief in and approach to endless economic growth.
Now that the world is discovering that endless economic growth was a mere 30-year historical accident of the 20th Century rather than either a planned and intentional strategy on the part of politicians or economists, there are some difficult decisions we face.
Abbotsford’s entire economic development plan under councilors John Smith’s and Bruce Beck’s direction was to borrow as much money as the City was legally entitled to borrow and hope that, by building giant vanity projects people and businesses would overlook Abbotsford’s backwardness and social problems and move there to see a hockey game.
We are now stuck with having to pay for those dreams over the next generation. Instead of water and sewer pipes which can accommodate economic growth … Abbotsford has an empty hockey rink.
Chilliwack has surrendered its economic development function to an arms-length, 3rd party Economic Development Corporation which has saddled the community with, among other things, a toxic employer and a toxic waste facility.
Neither of these approaches lead to sustainable communities and both Ross and Gaetz should now roll up their sleeves and do the real work of building cities which don’t force citizens to drive to Vancouver for good jobs in order to pay for their mortgages, their taxes and their water bills.
Until cities like Abbotsford and Chilliwack can provide citizens and the next generation of citizens with long-term, well-paying sustainable jobs, all of the posturing and prevaricating in the world which has not done a damn thing to clear up the air in the Fraser Valley, should now be left to history books and we should try to build better cities.
Oh … and please stop using the photos of the Fraser Valley Haze to indicate pollution. They do nothing of the sort and, even if we do manage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the haze will remain.