Opinion: In the absence of facts…

Some early groundwork could have reduced some of the speculation that has swirled around a Chilliwack hazardous waste recycling plant

Two months ago in this space, we suggested Aevitas could have eased the outcry over its proposed recycling facility had it taken the time to introduce Chilliwack to the concept before it sought a rezoning.

We stand by that suggestion.

Here’s what could have happened:

Back in October, the company holds a public open house, announcing its interest in establishing a state-of-the-art recycling plant in Chilliwack.

It cites its 20-year record of leading the way in taking toxic materials out of the waste stream and away from landfills.

It explains the process it uses – many developed by the company – to safely separate dangerous components, recycling and reusing whatever remains.

It talks about how it collects the everyday items in our world, like compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and renders them safe by extracting minute contaminants under contained and closely monitored conditions.

It outlines the design specifications of its facilities – measures that ensure there are multiple levels of containment should a spill occur; that the facility itself operates under negative air pressure and emissions are filtered and kept within a fraction of allowable limits.

It talks about the 40 or 50 jobs that will result from its presence here, and the long term career opportunities the company offers.

It explains how the skills and knowledge of a staff that works with hazardous goods would be shared with the community, ensuring a timely response by a specially trained team should an incident occur elsewhere in the region.

Finally, it talks about the stringent regulatory regime it works under; the levels of federal, provincial and municipal laws it must follow; and how its own corporate ethos governs its actions and interactions with the community.

Granted, these would have been only words. There is nothing to say they would have changed the minds of those who are vehemently opposed to the planned location.

What it would have done is filled the silence left by the strict requirements of the zoning process – a silence that has since been filled with speculation, conjecture and hyperbole.