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Chilliwack waste facility gains final approval

Glen Thompson, Friends of Chilliwack River Valley president, speaks with media after Tuesday
Glen Thompson, Friends of Chilliwack River Valley president, speaks with media after Tuesday's City council meeting where a controversial waste treatment facility was approved by council.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Chilliwack city council unanimously approved fourth and final reading of a controversial rezoning application for a waste recycling and transfer facility near the Fraser River.

About 30 members of the coalition of more than 20 groups opposed to the location were in council chambers as the vote was recorded.

"We plan to challenge this in court," said Thompson, president of Friends of the Chilliwack River Valley, one of the groups in the coalition that includes First Nations, environment and river stewardship groups.

The coalition has been working with a lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law. Now that final adoption of the rezoning bylaw is approved there are plans to file in court, he said.

The waste plant, proposed by Aevitas Inc. which will remove PCBs from transformer oil and powdered mercury from lightbulbs among other activities, received unanimous council support at third reading early in December.

Fourth reading is more of a formality, granted if and when an applicant meets conditions set out during the rezoning process.

Final approval was passed without comment, which seemed to surprise some.

"There was no discussion and no reaction on the part of the city, which is kind of disturbing for us," said Thompson.

The application has drawn fierce opposition from the critics who say the facility’s location poses a threat to the nearby Fraser River. It has even drawn a letter opposing the location from a B.C. Liberal MLA from Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, as well as a visit to the site by the B.C. NDP environment critic.

The notice of hearing for the rezoning contained "glowing errors," according to Thompson, which include the omission of the Aevitas name, nor any mention of the waste recycling activities that could involve PCBs or mercury.

"Plus their map doesn't indicate the Fraser River or the berm," Thompson added.

City officials maintained that the conditions set in the special M6 industrial zoning and restrictive covenant, coupled with the company's unblemished safety record, were deemed sufficient for rezoning approval.

Watch for more at theprogress.com as it becomes available.

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