Metro sounding out the market

Regional government begins the task of finding a site and proponent for planned waste-to-energy facility

Metro Vancouver has begun to look at potential sites for a new waste-toenergy facility, including which proponents have land secured.

A recent report endorsed by the region's Zero Waste Committee recommended undertaking what's being called a market sounding exercise.

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The exercise is expected to determine the number of potential proponents as well as the range of technologies to be proposed.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who chairs the committee, told the Optimist it's all to understand the readiness of proponents and allow potential host communities and site owners to identify possible locations.

"At this point, it's more that those with a potential site, with or without a technology, we can start discussions with them," he said.

It remains to be seen how it will all work in regards to a proposal to build a wasteto-energy facility at the Tsawwassen First Nation.

While other communities would likely have to go through development variances, rezonings and public information meetings, the TFN already has an approved industrial master plan that has 30 acres designated for an "energy park."

Approval from the regional district and province would still be required, but not from neighbouring Delta.

However, the TFN faces competition from communities outside the Lower Mainland wanting to burn the region's garbage. It could be made all the more challenging with the Fraser Valley Regional District having expressed opposition to a garbage incinerator in the Lower Mainland.

"We don't know the appetite from the cities in the region, to be honest, but yes, you hear about the TFN site. You certainly hear of out of region (possibilities)," Brodie said of places like Gold River, Campbell Metro Vancouver is undertaking a process to understand the readiness of waste-toenergy proponents and allow potential host communities and site owners to identify locations. The Tsawwassen First Nation already has a site secured and zoning in place for a plant.

River and the Sunshine Coast.

Last year the province approved the regional district's new Solid Waste Management Plan. It includes goals for diverting 70 per cent of regional waste through recycling, composting and other programs by 2015, increasing to 80 per cent by 2020. The plan also includes construction of waste-to-energy facilities, either within the region or outside.

"Under the plan and under the (environment) minister's acceptance of the plan, it's been mandated that we have to consider sites inside and outside the region, and the ultimate result has to be the result of a competitive process. So we can't just decide we like one proposal and say we're done," Brodie added.

The market sounding and potential site identification process is expected to take approximately 90 days.

Wherever the facility is eventually built, its scale of operation will be smaller than originally anticipated due to more of the region's garbage being diverted into recycling instead of ending up at the landfill.

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