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Les joins lobby to block WTE

Former Chilliwack MLA John Les - JENNA HAUCK/PROGRESS
Former Chilliwack MLA John Les
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/PROGRESS

Within months of leaving office, former Chilliwack MLA John Les has been hired as a professional opponent to Metro Vancouver's waste-to-energy incinerator plans.

Les registered as a lobbyist for Belkorp Environmental Services last month, an appointment that extends until Aug. 1, 2014. The company owns Wastech Services, which operates the Cache Creek Landfill.

"I was approached by them. Obviously their objectives fall very much in line with what has historically been my position on waste management in the Lower Mainland," said Les. "The objective is that there would be no waste incineration in the Lower Mainland. I think the residents of the Fraser Valley here share that objective."

During his time as MLA, Les vehemently opposed the proposed WTE project, citing concerns about emissions from the incinerator damaging the sensitive Fraser Valley airshed.

As a lobbyist, he will continue to advocate for solutions other than incineration.

"There is a requirement to maximize recycling before other options such as incineration. Landfilling should be considered. And if we do a good job of recylcing, then actually the very best fuels for incineration are taken out of the waste stream," said Les. "We'll obviously be pointing those things out, and we think there are better and more enlightened options for dealing with waste management, that will likely be much cheaper for the ratepayers."

The part-time position is "natural" for Les.

"I see this as an ongoing part of my commitment I made to residents a long time ago. Whatever I could do to stop incineration, I would do that," he said.

Belkorp has a history of recruiting ex-politicos to tug at the Environment Minister's ear. Former deputy minister to the premier Ken Dobell served as a company lobbyist, while former finance minster Gary Collins served as senior vice-president.

Les' expected lobbying target is Environment Minister Mary Polak, bus Les would not disclose specifics of his activities on Belkorp's behalf.

"What I do on behalf of my client is a matter that is between me and my client. I cannot freely discuss all of their affairs and all of the things that happen. But bottom line is, I will do the very best job I can to bring about results," he said.

Les is considering one more lobbying position, but hasn't settled on a decision yet.

akonevski@theprogress.com
twitter.com/alinakonevski
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