Metro Vancouver is considering a proposal to build a $500-million garbage incinerator on Squamish First Nation lands at Port Mellon.
The short-listed proposal, from Aquilina Renewable Energy, is one of four announced by Metro Vancouver last week, along with proposals from other companies for sites in Nanaimo, Delta and South Vancouver near the Oak Street Bridge. Metro is also investigating six undisclosed proposals as possible sites.
Expected to start up in 2018, the plant would burn an estimated 370,000 tonnes of garbage per year, as part of Metro's plan to divert waste from the Cache Creek Regional Landfill. The existing Burnaby incinerator would continue to burn 280,000 tonnes of Metro waste annually.
The Aquilina proposal, announced Nov. 21 at a meeting of Metro's zero waste committee, would convert waste to energy for Howe Sound Pulp and Paper and closed-containment coho salmon farms located on the 10-hectare site.
The “eco-industrial” development would also use captured carbon dioxide to operate a pharmaceutical algae farm and agricultural greenhouse operation.
The company is a subsidiary of Aquilina Investment Group, which is headed by Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilina.
Although the site lies within the West Howe Sound area of Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), the SCRD would have no zoning authority because it is on Squamish Nation land, SCRD officials confirmed Nov. 21.
Informed by reporters of the Metro announcement, West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull predicted the news would generate “a great deal of concern, all around the Howe Sound airshed.”
She said she hoped there would be some form of public consultation if the proposal goes forward.
Board chair Garry Nohr said it was still early in the process.
“There are four or five other opportunities, so it's not to say that this is the number one,” Nohr said.
Metro officials said they would begin consultations with possible host communities early next year and would hold public meetings near each proposed site.
“Because we have now identified a number of potential sites, we can now start site-specific consultations with the public, municipalities, regions, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders,” Metro zero waste committee chair Malcolm Brodie said.
Metro is expected to announce the selected site in 2015.
Brodie also said Metro would “ensure that any new waste-to-energy facilities built anywhere in B.C. will meet or exceed all provincial environmental and public health standards.”
In its submission to Metro, Aquilina said it would use mass-burn incineration technology developed by Danish firm Babcock and Wilcox Volund.
Saying the proposal had “strong First Nations relationships and partnerships,” the company also promised an “open and transparent process, design and environmental assessment for all communities and First Nations.”