Pitt Meadows council supports delay of Metro waste incinerator

Coun. Elkerton advises, be mindful of cost to taxpayer.

Pitt Meadows council supported their Maple Ridge counterparts Tuesday in calling for a two-year delay to Metro Vancouver’s plan to build a $520 million waste incinerator.

“The costs to the city is something we should watch,” said Coun. Janis Elkerton.

The District of Maple Ridge passed a motion last week citing concerns with the proposed incinerator and requesting that the regional body do a cost-benefit analysis while presenting a solid business case for it.

The motion quoted Dr. Douw Steyn, an atmospheric scientist at the University of British Columbia who has been studying air quality issues in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley for more than 30 years.

Steyn expects “more coughing, smog and respiratory illness if the regional garbage incineration plan goes forward.”

Elkerton is concerned about how much Pitt Meadows’ taxpayers will have to contribute towards its construction, which she calculated to be at least $3.5 million.  That doesn’t include operating, maintenance and management costs, she noted.

Maple Ridge has tallied their share to be $15 million.

“I just think it’s common sense that we don’t strap our municipality financially and also burden the environment with something that shouldn’t even be used at this point,” said Elkerton.

Support for the motion was not unanimous, however, with councillors Gwen O’Connell and Tracy Miyashita asking that the city get more information before council takes a stance.

O’Connell wants a presentation to council from Metro’s Zero Waste committee.

“With all due respect, Coun. Elkerton, how can we scare the public into this? Nothing has been decided.”

O’Connell also noted that several European cities have waste-to-energy incinerators, including one in the heart of London, that generates electricity.

Metro Vancouver’s proposal, however, has many critics.

A study published last year by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recommended Metro Vancouver not build any new waste-to-energy plants and phase out its existing garbage incinerator in Burnaby.

In particular, the study noted plastics and paper – key materials that should be diverted for recycling – contribute the most energy when burned.