Submitted. Abbotsford-South Candidate John van Dongen stepped off the campaign trail Thursday and into a committee room at Metro Vancouver Regional District’s office in Burnaby, speaking on behalf of Fraser Valley residents who want to stop a proposed garbage incinerator.
“I am committed to putting the interests of Abbotsford residents first, and that’s why I felt it was important to tell Metro Vancouver directors directly that their garbage plan doesn’t make sense for the environment, economy or for taxpayers,” John van Dongen said following the meeting.
In his presentation, van Dongen said Metro Vancouver’s proposal for a new by-law giving the regional district 100% control over the movement of solid waste is “an intensely regulatory and heavy-handed approach, when there is a much simpler and more ‘market friendly’ way…of reducing waste.”
Acknowledging reports that about 5% of garbage from the greater Vancouver area is now finding its way to FVRD transfer stations, van Dongen suggested that tipping fees in Metro Vancouver are too high and are already expected to increase another 50 per cent.
“How much higher will they become if Metro Vancouver can impose a government monopoly by taking away choice?” van Dongen asked. “If this whole exercise isn’t just about keeping more waste for a large new incinerator, why not work with the FVRD?”
New options, such as material recovery facilities, are an advanced form of recycling and are a positive alternative to building a new garbage incinerator. These recycling facilities can be funded by the private sector, as they produce high quality raw materials such as paper fibre and plastic that can be sold to manufacturers.
“Giving government officials 100% control over ‘who can do what’ is hardly the way to encourage private sector investment and harness market forces to keep costs of managing waste as low and competitive as possible,” van Dongen noted. “Metro Vancouver seems determined to put more taxpayers money at risk with a government mega-project to burn more garbage with a $400 million incinerator.”
In his concluding remarks, van Dongen said he opposes Metro Vancouver’s proposed by-law because “it will stifle innovation, reduce competition and result in higher costs and risks to taxpayers — not to mention put more emissions in the air we breathe.”
Unlike other candidates, van Dongen is demanding that the Environment Minister act immediately to remove the option for an incinerator from Metro Vancouver’s solid waste management plan — something the Minister has the authority to do under the Environmental Management Act – but which the current Environment Minister has refused to do.