Metro Vancouver's waste committee has rejected a request by the Fraser Valley Regional District to allow an "observer" to sit on an independent expert panel overseeing the proposed waste-to-energy project.
Committee chairman Malcolm Brodie, who is also mayor of Richmond, said allowing the FVRD to sit on the committee was a "terrible idea."
"There would have to be a lot of confidential conversations between those experts," he said.
Directors agreed instead to set up a political liaison committee, with two members from Metro and the Fraser Valley working together on the proposal for a waste-to-energy facility in or outside the region.
Brodie maintains Metro's technical staff team has met with the Fraser Valley nine times, but the FVRD politicians haven't accepted invitations to consult on the controversial project. The political liaison committee, he said, will be another way to reach out to those in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, as the project progresses.
The B.C. environment ministry has granted approval to Metro Vancouver to pursue plans for a waste-to-energy facility in or outside Metro Vancouver, but has stipulated it must consult with the FVRD. Fraser Valley politicians, including Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz, have complained that an incinerator in Metro would affect their air quality and are opposed to one being built.
But Brodie maintains that while Metro hasn't decided on the technology of the proposed waste to energy plant, or how many will be built, or where, it will happen. "Whether people like it or not that decision has been made," he said.
"This really is an attempt to consult but I don't know if it will bear fruit."
Langley City Coun. Gayle Martin agreed with having a political liaison committee, saying if they didn't do it, the FVRD might use it against them in the final decision. "It doesn't matter what we say to the FVRD in regards to waste to energy . . . they don't want us to have one," she said. "No matter how much consultation we do the Fraser Valley is going to disagree with the outcome. That concerns me . . . how much clout are they going to have with the minister?"
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan voted against forming a political liaison, saying it validates the FVRD's concerns about air quality, which are likely more affected by the streams of car and truck traffic travelling though the valley. He argued it was critical that the experts be free to do their job.
Metro Vancouver is in the midst of wrapping up its request for technology, and expects to meet with 33 potential proponents later this month.