Delta councillor files FOI over former CAO’s actions

A city councillor is so concerned about a memo written after a contentious 2013 meeting regarding the Enviro-Smart composting operation in East Ladner he has filed a freedom of information (FOI) request with Metro Vancouver.

Coun. Robert Campbell, who is seeking re-election with Team Delta, announced Friday he has filed the FOI.

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Authored by Ray Robb, Metro Vancouver’s environmental and regulatory enforcement manager, the memo has recently gained widespread circulation throughout the community.

The memo calls into question statements and actions made by then Delta CAO George Harvie, who is running for mayor under the Achieving for Delta banner.

The memo came to light following a letter sent to Delta council in mid-August by Metro board chair Greg Moore, who stated that Delta had strenuously objected to Enviro-Smart obtaining an air quality permit and had objected to public consultation regarding the company’s applications to increase tonnage.

“I am angered, puzzled and disappointed to learn – more than five years after the event – that Mr. Harvie strenuously opposed public consultation to discuss the Enviro-Smart composting operation in Ladner,” said Campbell. “I believe the public has a right to know all of the facts.”

Campbell’s FOI calls for the release of all relevant documents pertaining to the March 28, 2013 meeting.
Robb’s memo – addressed to five senior Metro Vancouver officials following the meeting – contained several observations, including that Harvie made several statements against an air quality permit.

“If Mr. Robb’s memorandum is accurate with regards to the conduct of our former city manager – and notably Mr. Harvie’s alleged opposition to consultation with Ladner residents – we need to get to the bottom of it,” said Campbell. “Local residents are confused by conflicting statements from the municipality’s retired city manager and current members of council.”

Harvie, who sat down with the Optimist to discuss the memo, said he has done nothing wrong and that the record shows that.

“The fact is this meeting was five years ago,” said Harvie. “The public record shows why I was there. The public record shows that I received direction from city council and as the city manager my role is to follow the direction of council and I did that.”

Harvie said an odour control bylaw was discussed by council at a Jan. 28, 2013 meeting.

“I was there in March representing council. I have never been known to be a rude person, but I have been known to be firm and I was adamant that this was not a good piece of bylaw legislation of which council gave me direction to express that,” said Harvie. “The record will show that Metro was tied up with Harvest Power and that’s why they didn’t get to the air quality permit for West Coast Lawns, in those days, now Enviro-Smart.”

Harvie said given that it is a political year he recognizes that fellow candidates are looking for something to discredit him.

“Did I actually do anything to stall a permit? Show me where? Not at all. We don’t have that authority,” he said. “Did I voice concerns regarding legislation that was flawed and would affect our agricultural areas and industrial areas? Yes, that was my job and council knew that.

“I have an excellent record of achievements in Delta. On this file I was the one that forced, without any support from Metro, when we did our green waste contract with Enviro-Smart, I made them sign a contract that they would not accept any of the waste that was generating odours. Since then a new company came in and that requirement is not there. It has turned into a regional operation instead of a local operation, which was not what it was intended to do.”

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