Is Vancouver Island going to play host to a garbage incineration facility for the Lower Mainland?
Directors for the Regional District of Nanaimo believe that’s unlikely, but the possibility exists.
The comments came during discussion at the board’s committee of the whole meeting earlier this month in response to a report by solid waste manager Dennis Trudeau about potential site identification for a facility to incinerate Metro Vancouver waste and turn it into energy.
Trudeau said Metro Vancouver is looking to shortlist locations for a facility to process 700,000 tons of waste that need to be managed.
“They’re looking at an energy facility to manage that,” Trudeau said, noting he convened a conference call with other regional districts on the Island to discuss the issue.
“We decided to wait to see what Metro Vancouver is doing,” he said. “If the facility was located on the Lower Mainland, that would be one thing, but if something was located on Vancouver Island, that would be more of a concern.”
Trudeau said the result of the conference call was a recommendation to Vancouver Island regional districts to call for a detailed consultation process if there is a proposal that involves siting a Waste-To-Energy (WTE) facility on Vancouver Island.
In his report, Trudeau noted that a 2009 study commissioned by the Capital Regional District, indicated that the CRD, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Regional District of Nanaimo would require “at least three times more waste, or 600,000 tonnes per year would be needed to make a WTE facility viable on the Island.
“The study noted that there were possible Island-based WTE facilities under consideration to address possible WTE options for Metro Vancouver. In particular, one such facility was proposed to be located in Gold River, which could be cost competitive with current landfill practices in the RDN due to its large capacity.”
The Ministry of Environment, Trudeau continued, had indicated to Metro Vancouver that they are to consider the full range of possible options – both in and out of the region – in an equal and fair manner.
The timeline proposed would see commissioning of a plant for Metro Vancouver’s waste in 2018. Currently, residual solid waste is incinerated at a facility in Burnaby.
Commenting on the report, Pleasant Valley director Maureen Young questioned whether the request went to all regional districts in the province or just those on Vancouver Island. To this, Trudeau had no knowledge beyond that the request had gone to all districts on the Island.
Alec McPherson, the director for Cedar, expressed concern about the possibility of a private company allowing such a facility on their private land, but Trudeau stressed any such project would still be subject to permitting and zoning regulations.
“They would need appropriate permits for air discharge and any residuals that needed to be discharged, water or solid waste,” he said. “On the zoning side they would need appropriate zoning.”
That didn’t mollify McPherson.
“I get concerned when these things come up,” he said, noting he lives only a short distance away from one potential site at Duke Point.
“I become very concerned when they are within 28 kilometres from where I live.”
City of Parksville director Marc Lefebvre was more blunt.
“When I look at the reaction to people on Vancouver Island to coal mines and smart metres, I wonder if we should be dealing with the issue of this type of operation on Vancouver Island in terms of acceptability,” Lefebvre said. “This might be a non-starter from the get-go.”