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Coquitlam council wants a vote on incinerator for Metro Vancouver
Coquitlam voters won’t see a referendum question about Metro Vancouver’s planned incinerator on the civic ballot when they go the polls in November.
But when the TransLink funding referendum eventually takes place, voters across the region may be asked for their view on the controversial topic.
That’s the hope of Coquitlam city council, which passed a motion this week to have the issue tied to the TransLink referendum.
The motion came late Monday as council sought to find ways for the public to have a voice on Metro’s $450-million incinerator proposal.
Coun. Neal Nicholson, a member of Metro’s zero waste committee, said he has heard plenty from angry residents as well as frustrated Metro directors who are concerned about the agency’s plan to burn trash in a new facility.
Nicholson — along with councillors Lou Sekora, Chris Wilson and Bonita Zarrillo — called on council to stage a non-binding vote in the Nov. 15 municipal election “to force Metro to explain” the reasoning for the incinerator and its economic and environmental impacts.
Zarrillo said such a referendum would also increase voter turnout, which is traditionally around 20% in Coquitlam.
Still, Coun. Terry O’Neill said Coquitlam council has already taken a stand against the incinerator. “We have heard from the public on this issue,” he said, adding a Yes vote would be unlikely if the question were on the ballot.
Coun. Craig Hodge said a number of groups, including the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, the BC Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver and Surrey boards of trade, are opposed to the incinerator plan.
“I believe it’s an important issue but it’s an issue that reaches beyond our borders,” Hodge said while successfully moving an amendment to Nicholson’s motion that would see a vote linked to the TransLink funding referendum.
Reached by phone yesterday (Tuesday) in England, Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, who chairs the Metro board, told The Tri-City News he’s dismayed with Coquitlam council’s request for a regional vote.
“It makes no sense whatsoever.... Metro Vancouver is going through a clearly defined process,” he said, noting a request for proposals is now out.
Moore said as Metro moves forward with its incinerator plan, a more detailed business case will be unveiled when a location and technology are chosen.
Moore said Metro has many massive projects on the go (last week, it showed its new ultraviolet light disinfection facility in the Coquitlam watershed, which cost $100 million) and asked, “Does Coquitlam council plan to have a referendum on every one of these, too?”
And he noted the mayors’ council on TransLink, of which Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart is a member, recently said the TransLink funding referendum isn’t a good idea.
Like last week, as reported in The Tri-City News, Moore questioned Nicholson’s motives as he said the councillor hasn’t been vocal at the zero waste committee, which met as recently as last Thursday (at Monday’s council meeting, Nicholson clarified he has voted against the incinerator business plan at Metro).
Meanwhile, also at Monday’s council meeting, Hodge moved a notice of motion — to be debated at the June 23 council meeting — for the proposed garbage incinerator plan to be delayed for two years until the business case is proven and to allow for public consultation.