Nanaimo council cheered for rejecting plan to burn Vancouver trash

Nanaimo council voted unanimously Monday to rule out the city's support for a proposed waste-to-energy incinerator at Duke Point that would have burned Vancouver garbage.

They received a standing ovation from hundreds of people who showed up to watch the vote.

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Councillors have been taking heat over the issue for weeks, receiving hundreds of messages urging them to rule out their support for the proposal.

But on Monday, it was Mayor John Ruttan who led off the meeting with a searing attack on Metro Vancouver, which is seeking a new facility to deal with its garbage.

Ruttan took aim at the regional government for what he called inadequate public consultation on the issue. He also called Vancouver's indication it would choose a location for a new WTE facility in 2016 "unacceptable."

Ruttan added he had confidence and the "greatest respect" for the proponents of the project, Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. and European firm Urbaser. The two firms are also partnering with Seaspan Ferries, which owns the land on which the proposed facility would be built.

But Ruttan concluded: "I do not want (us) to be known as the garbage dump for Metro Vancouver."

Audience members filled every seat in Shaw Auditorium, and dozens more spilled out into the hallways to watch the meeting live on television screens.

The majority of those who spoke cited health and air pollution concerns; others said property values would suffer.

Seaspan Ferries' John Lucas acknowledged public opposition to the incinerator and thanked council for considering the issue. Representatives for Urbaser and Wheelabrator were also present. All declined comment immediately following the vote.

The motion to state non-support for the project was originally proposed by Coun. George Anderson, but was tabled. Coun. Diane Brennan announced two weeks ago she would bring the motion back for consideration.

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