Chilliwack Progress

Metro's incinerator plan called an ‘attack’ on private enterprise

Metro Vancouver’s incinerator-based waste disposal plan has raised the ire of independent contractors in the Lower Mainland and homebuilders in the Fraser Valley.

Sharon Gaetz, chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District, which is adamantly opposed to Metro Vancouver’s waste-to-energy plan, could not be reached for comment Wednesday on a possible alliance.

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association along with the Canadian Home Builders Association of the Fraser Valley called on Metro Vancouver Wednesday to “step back from its heavy-handed and high cost plan.”

“This plan isn’t about reducing waste in Metro Vancouver,” ICBA president Philip Hochstein said. “It’s about attacking private enterprise to create a government monopoly over waste management in order to fuel the new taxpayer-funded incinerator they want to use to burn garbage.”

That’s an argument the FVRD has made in its opposition to the plan — that once built an incinerator will become “a beast that must be fed” more and more waste, and thus work against more environment-friendly recycling.

While the FVRD’s main concern has been the impact of incinerator emissions on air quality, Hochstein said contractors and businesses are most concerned that an “unelected level of government is legislating out of existence private sector businesses in order to create a monopoly.”

He said under Metro Vancouver’s plan construction companies and homeowners will also face a “minimum” 43 per cent hike is solid waste fees by 2017.

Jan Field, executive director of the Canadian Home Builders Association of the Fraser Valley, said those higher costs “will end up being folded into already high housing costs.”

“This is coming at a time when families in the Lower Mainland are already struggling with the cost of housing,” Field said.

Hochstein said construction companies will face further cost hikes as the Metro Vancouver plan will force all solid waste to Metro Vancouver sites. Currently, construction companies have the choice of hauling waste to “cost-competitive” recycling and disposal sites in the Fraser Valley or Washington State.

“We have an unelected and unaccountable Metro government that’s pushing through a solid waste plan that’s a step backwards for our region,” Hochstein said.

“A government garbage monopoly will only serve the interests of Metro itself,” he added, and “will impact the environment and leave the tax bill in the hands of the taxpayers.”

“It must be stopped,” he said.

A public awareness poll by ThinkHQ found that 75 per cent of respondents in the Fraser Valley were not confident that Metro Vancouver could prevent problems like the recent fly ash incident in Cache Creek.

About 1,800 tonnes of fly ash from a Burnaby incinerator was mistakenly deposited at the Cache Creek landfill, prompting an investigation by the BC Environment Ministry.

It was the FVRD that first raised the alarm about elevated levels of cadmium, a carcinogen, in the fly ash deposited at Cache Creek.

Hochstein said it’s only recently that the B.C. construction industry twigged to the implications of Metro Vancouver’s plan.

“I think the industry is only slowly coming to realize the implications of the waste management plan,” he said.

“They want to eliminate the private sector from the mix,” he said. “Who thinks government can run anything better than the private sector?”

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

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