Laura Walz, Powell River Peak, July 11 2012
Regional districts have jurisdiction for solid waste
A proposal to develop a waste-to-energy facility in Powell River generated discussion at the June 28 Powell River Regional District board meeting.
Wheelabrator Technologies Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Waste Management, and Urbaser, a wholly owned subsidiary of ACS group, have been evaluating the potential to develop a waste-to-energy project in Powell River. The facility is part of Metro Vancouver’s solid waste management plan, which has been approved by the provincial government, to handle up to 500,000 tonnes of solid waste.
Proponents will be required to submit bids for both an in- and out-of-region facility. Wheelabrator and Urbaser are eyeing Catalyst Paper Corporation’s Powell River mill site as the location for the out-of-region facility.
Electoral Area A Director Patrick Brabazon brought up the issue during his report of a Powell River Regional Economic Development Society (PRREDS) board meeting. Brabazon said he told the PRREDS board his responsibility was to explain concerns that they have to consider when they engage in any project. “I explained to them that, for example, garbage is the responsibility of the regional district, of every regional district in the province of British Columbia,” he said.
The regional district has a solid waste management plan that has no mention of incineration in it, Brabazon added. “If we were to burn our garbage, we would need an amendment. What’s not clear to me is whether or not garbage from another regional district coming here would affect our solid waste management plan,” he said. “But you should consider the fact the proponents may need to come to the regional district and ask for an amendment to the solid waste management plan.”
Colin Palmer, board chair and Electoral Area C director, pointed out he had gone to a meeting the night before put on by Malaspina Sierra Club about Wheelabrator’s proposal. He said he reminded the attendees at the meeting that the regional district has the jurisdiction for solid waste management. Palmer said he has asked staff to research the issue and is expecting a report at the next committee-of-the-whole meeting.
The issue is not just about the burning of the garbage, Palmer said, it’s also about where the residue goes. “One of the things we will have a grip on, if nothing else, is the toxic ash landfill, because that is where we’ll definitely have jurisdiction,” he said. “We’ll have a position to take.”
Mac Fraser, regional district chief administrative officer, said whoever generates the waste needs to have a plan that is satisfactory to the ministry of environment, if the end disposal is somewhere in British Columbia. “The generator of the waste cannot just send it out of the region and it disappears off the regulatory radar of the province,” he said.
Palmer pointed out the regional district’s solid waste management plan hasn’t been approved yet by the ministry of environment. “If we want to make some changes, we can still do it,” he said.
Palmer also said he believes other local governments would be interested in the proposal. “I can think of any number of communities on Vancouver Island whose landfills are running out of usage; they’ll want to join in,” he said. “We might be taking the whole of Vancouver Island’s garbage by the time we’re finished in this particular proposal. Who would deny the fact that it would be in Wheelabrator’s interest to get all that garbage?”