Metro Vancouver is aiming to hold a public information meeting on the Sunshine Coast in late May for a proposed $500-million garbage incinerator project at Port Mellon.
Metro is in the process of finalizing dates for three "community-specific" meetings, Paul Henderson, Metro's general manager of solid waste services, said Tuesday.
"We haven't finalized a date for the Sunshine Coast, but we're targeting late May," Henderson said.
Two other sites, in Nanaimo and Delta, are currently being considered, while a proposal for South Vancouver has been dropped from the list of possible sites, he said.
Metro is also looking at six undisclosed sites submitted by landowners under a separate process, but Henderson said staff is still reviewing those submissions. Once possible sites among the six have been identified, community meetings would also be held for those locations.
After the communities are consulted, Metro will short-list three or four sites and move into the next phase of the selection process.
The waste-to-energy plant would be situated on a 10-hectare parcel on Squamish Nation lands, and last week Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors said they are hoping to air growing community concerns about the proposal when they meet next month with Squamish Nation council.
"The proposed site is on Squamish land, which means we have little or no input unless we meet with them personally," SCRD board chair Garry Nohr said at the March 20 planning and development committee meeting.
The SCRD had set up two possible dates in April to meet with the council, and Nohr said the incinerator proposal is on the agenda.
More than a dozen concerned residents attended the committee meeting, and directors passed a series of recommendations, including direction for planning staff to liaise with Metro in advance of the public meeting and ensure it is held in the Gibsons area.
West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull called for including Squamish Nation in the conversation early and putting all available information on the SCRD website.
"I'm hearing lots of concern and interest about this particular issue," Turnbull said.
She also recommended forwarding the SCRD's solid waste management policies to Metro and Squamish Nation.
Roberts Creek director Donna Shugar said she was also hearing concerns in her area and recommended Metro, as well as federal and provincial regulatory agencies, be asked to provide the SCRD with a seat on the working group for an environmental assessment if the site is selected.
Both Elphinstone director Lorne Lewis and Gibsons alternate director Lee Ann Johnson raised the issue of air quality, with Johnson noting that the current monitoring station for emissions from Howe Sound Pulp and Paper (HSPP), located at Langdale Elementary School, "doesn't even get air from Port Mellon," but does detect vehicle exhaust from the Langdale ferry terminal.
"Gibsons Harbour is one of the places where air swirls and cools down, so the impact of the contaminants is quite a bit stronger if there's inversions going on," Johnson said.
The committee passed a separate recommendation asking the Ministry of Environment to reassess the location of the monitoring station.
Directors also raised concerns about garbage spilling into Howe Sound and the impact transporting the waste would have on marine traffic.
The proposal from Aquilini Renewable Energy would burn an estimated 370,000 tonnes of garbage per year, converting it to energy that would provide power to HSPP and closed containment coho salmon farms.
Metro has said it's committed to a full environmental assessment process, regardless of the site, and expects to announce the selected site next year, with start up scheduled for 2018.
© Coast Reporter