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Fight over Nanaimo incinerators heating up

NANAIMO — While the City of Nanaimo considers the possibility of a waste-to-energy garbage incinerator, other bodies are waging conflicting information campaigns.

NANAIMO — While the City of Nanaimo considers the possibility of a waste-to-energy garbage incinerator, other bodies are waging conflicting information campaigns. The city delayed a decision on its stance in December and has left the door open for proponents and opposition alike to continue to state their case.

Metro Vancouver is essentially committed to WTE under the regional district’s current solid-waste plan.

Metro Vancouver — which has been required by the provincial government to explore out-of-region solutions to increase WTE capacity — has committed to a “heavily science-based” approach toward incineration, according to zero-waste committee chairman and Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

But so has the Fraser Valley Regional District, which has effectively declared war on incineration in the form of a $50,000 campaign (in 2013) that includes television ads and billboards to convince the public that WTE is ‘Not a 21st century solution.’

“We’re hearing great things about it and what it might mean for the local economy and we’re hearing things from the environmentalists [about] what a terrible thing it would be to have garbage incinerated in our area,” said Nanaimo Coun. Diana Johnstone. “Right now, it’s very conflicting and I don’t think it’s balanced at the moment.”

Johnstone has taken an opposition stance toward the proposal. Two properties at Duke Point have been submitted as possible sites to
Metro Vancouver by proponents Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. and European firm Urbaser. As Metro Vancouver moves through the site selection process, it has faced a need to provide information on the technologies and what they could mean for residents in a selected area.

The major source of contention for the FVRD is air quality. The regional district has taken issue with the proposal and has said airborne pollutants generated by the facility will funnel into the valley and affect valuable farm land. Alongside banners that include photos of asthmatic children and a soccer player with a surgical mask, the FVRD has said incineration will lead to negative health effects, up to and including death.

Metro Vancouver has countered to say that less than one per cent of air pollutants in the Fraser Valley are caused by waste management.