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Nanaimo councillor opposes garbage incinerator

Nanaimo shouldn’t play host to Metro Vancouver’s garbage, says a Nanaimo city councillor calling for formal opposition of a proposed waste-to-energy incinerator.

Coun. George Anderson wants Nanaimo city council to send a letter to Metro Vancouver making it clear the $500-million incinerator isn’t welcome at Duke Point.

Nanaimo city council has been mulling support for a potential waste-to-energy project since the Lower Mainland district first announced it was considering options to barge garbage to Vancouver Island.

The Duke Point project – proposed by Wheelabrator and Urbaser – would burn 370,000 tonnes of garbage each year and generate 70 permanent jobs. But opponents have raised concerns about air pollution and smell. Anderson said while he isn’t opposed to discussions about waste-to-energy options to handle Nanaimo’s waste, he isn’t keen on the Harbour City being a solution “for another community that has not been prudent in taking care of its garbage issues.”

With Nanaimo now officially announced as a potential site for the new incineration project, it’s time for other city councillors  to decide where they stand on the project, he said, adding they’ve had lots of time to weigh the project.

A decision now will give Metro Vancouver something to think about as they whittle down the long list, he said.

Council members were slated to discuss the issue at an open meeting after press time Monday.

“I don’t want to have a legacy that says because council chose to be inactive this is the reason we have [Metro Vancouver’s  incinerator] in our community now,” Anderson said. “This is about being proactive.”

Metro Vancouver announced four sites put forward by proponents for waste-to-energy technology in November.  Nanaimo’s Duke Point was on the list, along with Vancouver, Delta and Port Mellon.

But even with Nanaimo as a potential candidate, Coun. Fred Pattje said it’s “a little premature” to make a decision on the project.

“While I know some people are getting anxious because [Nanaimo is on the list], I still think we should have much more of a discussion than we’ve had so far,” he said.

Metro Vancouver anticipates public consultation near each of sites recently made public, although the weight of public support – or lack of – isn’t clear. Malcolm Brodie, chairman of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee, said proposed sites will be judged on many different criteria, not just community support.

If there is opposition, “we’d have to gauge what it is. Obviously [it would be] of importance, but we’d have to assess the situation,” he said.

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