Metro Vancouver Seeks to Amend Solid Waste Management Plan

In my mailbox today, I got a little piece of paper that appears to be junk mail. Upon further inspection, it was a blurb from the Metro Vancouver letting me know they are seeking to amend their solid waste plan, by exporting our garbage to the United States. The Cache Creek landfill, long one of the Lower Mainland’s dumping grounds, is closing down in 2010 and the powers that be apparently went, “Huh. Well. What are we going to do wih all that garbage?”

So they have two proposals they want the public’s input on:  

One proposal will see part of our garbage delivered via truck to a Surrey facility, where it will be transferred to rail, and will then go through Surrey, Delta, and White Rock, and eventually make its way to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in Washington State. Another part of our garbage in loaded containers will be transported along Highway 1 via truck and will head south to the US along Highway 11 in Abbotsford, and then to Sumas, Washington, where it will be transferred to rail.

The other proposal will see part of the garbage delivered to an Annacis Island facility, where it will be transferred to rail, and it will go via train through New Westminster, Surrey, Delta, White Rock, and then cross the border. The other part will be delivered via truck along Highway 1 to Chilliwack, and then transferred to rail, where it will head south through Abbotsford and finally into the United States, eventually ending at either a landfill in Oregon or a landfill in Washington. 

Here’s a wee map of the proposals, courtesy of the Metro Vancouver, although I find it slightly alarming that once the proposed garbage routes hit the United States they apparently disappear into the ether and cease to exist:

Here’s where I get all ranty. I have two beefs with these “plans”.

One: why aren’t they teaching people how to reduce waste instead of just trucking it off to somewhere unseen? Recycling compliance is, to be blunt, terrible. People still throw away items that are perfectly recyclable or reusable (and I am guilty too) and worse, there are many recyclable items that you can’t even put into the municipal curbside collection bins. Here at Chez Arbo, we’ve made a point of hanging onto all of our packaging from items we buy at London Drugs, since they claim they will take back all packaging from items purchased at their store but it’s a cosmic pain in the butt to have to find a place to store bulky items like styrofoam until our next trip to the store. We also make the effort and take  certain items, like code 6 or 7 plastics, to the municipal recycle centre at Canada Games Pool because we can’t put it into our recycling bins in the waste room.  But we can’t compost in our multi-family housing complex and so all those green scraps go straight into the landfill. The Vancouver Sun reported in late 2008 that recycling in multi-family housing is pathetic, at best. Citizens aren’t able to put a lot of items into any of the recycling depots – curbside or not – because facilties don’t exist. You know those Tim Horton’s and Starbucks’ cups? NOT RECYCLABLE. Seriously. The corrugated paper jackets are. The cups and lids are not. 

While I can understand that an immediate solution needs to be found, where are the educational initiatives? There is a Zero Waste Challenge initiative at a regional level, and that’s great, but why isn’t there some sort of Green Action Team all over the local media, conducting educational seminars, talking to children at schools and teaching new residents and homeowners what they can do? Why aren’t they approaching groups like The BC Apartment Owners and Managers Association to try and get more people on board with recycling? Where are the municipalities standing up and being leaders in green initiatives and lowering waste? Why is the town of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba (no offense, Leaf Rapidians) beating us to the punch banning plastic bags? Aren’t we known in BC as the Greenie Weenies? Aren’t we supposed to be granola-eating, fleece-wearing, Birkenstock-sporting, hippies in disguise? I mean, come on, Greenpeace was born here. Why is some town in Manitoba taking a more proactive stance that we are? I realize a lot of these are rhetorical questions but I doubt I am the only person asking them. 

Beef Number Two: The old saying “Out of sight, out of mind” really applies here. If people don’t know where their garbage goes, why on earth will they care? Have you been to a transfer station lately? Holy cow! The amount of items being thrown away that can be reused, given to charity, or given away on sites like Freecycle  and Craigslist is ridiculous. Surrey has a great, well-used site called Surrey Reuses – I’d love to see New Westminster come up with a similar site. I’ve got about ten things I’d happily give away for free right now if such a site existed because I’d love to pass on my things to someone who isn’t planning on reselling them – which is what I find happens with most stuff I give away for free on Craigslist and that drives me crazy and is a whole other rant. 

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is looking for the public’s input to the two proposals to deal with solid waste, and with the possibility of garbage being transported through our city (albeit in sealed containers) I would think many New Westminster residents would be interested in attending the public sessions. There are four planned and for all four, registration is from 6:30 – 7:00 p.m. and the meeting is scheduled for 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Make sure your opinions are counted! 

March 25, 2009
Evergreen Hall
9291 Corbould St

March 26, 2009
Abbotsford Banquet Centre
33738 Laurel St.

March 31, 2009
Surrey/Delta/New Westminster
Compass Point Inn
9850 King George Hwy.

April 1, 2009
Surrey/White Rock
Pacific Inn and Conference Centre
1160 King George Hwy.



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4 Replies to “Metro Vancouver Seeks to Amend Solid Waste Management Plan”

  1. I like how the lines end at the border too. I can just imagine the trains or trucks hitting 0 Avenue, dumping their loads just on the other side, and then scurrying away, quick, before anyone sees them.

  2. Thanks for posting this Jen, I haven't seen the flyer (yet). The city is taking some measures to improve composting (providing subsidized worm composters sized for apartments, for example), but perhaps more could be done on the awareness/education side. Even more effective would to institute legislation or incentives to reduce packaging on products, from coffee cups to shopping bags to electronics packaging.

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