Council silent on incinerator

We got to hear a smattering of city council's comments. What we’re still waiting for is a simple yes or no.

City council seems to be content with a hazy future when it comes to a waste-to-energy incinerator in Nanaimo.

It hasn’t been any sort of secret that companies were considering barging over Vancouver’s garbage to be burned at Duke Point. The municipality has long been aware of the intentions of project bidders Wheelabrator and Urbaser, but has wished to reserve comment.

Well, the project has now been longlisted, and we got to hear a smattering of those comments. What we’re still waiting for is a simple yes or no.

Council had the opportunity to speak its mind this week when Coun. George Anderson tabled a motion to send Metro Vancouver a letter of rejection. Councillors decided instead to do nothing. They said they don’t have enough information, that there hasn’t been public consultation.

The fact is that councillors have a lot of information. City staff have met with the proponents. They know where the plant will be built, what it will look like, how many jobs it will create. They know how much garbage it will burn, how much pollution it will spew. The Regional District of Nanaimo formally opposed an incinerator months ago – if the RDN had enough information then, why doesn’t the municipality have enough info now?

Based on the comments that they have publicly murmured, a majority of councillors are against the incinerator. They could take a stand, but taking a stand is rarely smart politics and so instead they’ll hedge, pander and let this public process play out to predictably inconclusive ends.

The city’s own strategic plan preaches environmental responsibility. We can be principled and say we don’t want to build Vancouver a giant smokestack and let another community do it. Or we can take the cash and cough.

Or maybe Nanaimo won’t even get any say in the matter because our council is content to keep quiet, and instead just sit there, in a haze.