Powell River's City Council Votes Against Wheelabrator Garbage Incinerator Proposal

The July 19th vote by Powell River's City Council on a motion to oppose the building of a garbage incinerator on the Catalyst Paper property passed 6 -1 with only Councillor Maggie Hathaway voting against it. This was good news for the entire Georgia Basin air-shed and the talk of the rabble-rousing community here in PR. It's definitely a step in the right direction, but only a step. The council apparently heard from a lotta community groups who were strongly opposed to the incinerator.

There's still cause for concern as the article at the Powell River Peak website titled 'Council extinguishes incineration proposal' [and many of the comments below it] points out, "According to Section 21, a provision in the city’s charter that has been in place since Powell River incorporated in 1954, “no by-law or other law or regulation of the council [shall restrict commercial activity] or…fumes, gas, vapour, smoke, dust, cinders, vibration, electricity, noise, or explosion,” on mill property. Wheelabrator’s proposed site for the waste-to-energy facility was to be on Catalyst Paper Corporation Powell River mill land."

It sure looks like the next big battle in the march toward a Zero Waste future in Powell River must be over this 'section 21' in the short term. 'Section 21' is a  corporate mandated remnant from a bygone era when the forest industry oligarchs ruled BC without opposition. Today, things have changed, for many reasons including the fact that tourism now brings in twice as many dollars to the Powell River area as the combined forest industry of which Catalyst is but a fraction, and that there is a growing awareness that Powell River's future is in expanded tourism and as a retirement community not in heavy industry or resource extraction.

In the longer term Zero Waste is the objective Powell River will be marching towards and the fact that the City Council acted as they did reflects that they can be 'persuaded' by community input and the fact that the community did act to persuade them once they became well informed about the garbage incinerator issue tells me that the next step toward a green future in PR is an information campaign about 'Section 21' designed to raise the community's awareness of its existence and danger. IMO, once PR's residents are fully informed about 'Section 21' their pressure will again create the necessary changes.

Zero Waste can and will create quality jobs in the community as well as an environment we can all be enjoy. Zero Waste will save tax dollars now being spent on sending barge loads of resources that we should instead be reusing to make into products down to Washington State. Zero Waste isn't some tree-hugger's wet dream it's the future everywhere. In fact another aspect of this story is that Vancouver has, through its own Zero Waste Plan, reduced its waste footprint so quickly that it'll probably not even need Wheelabrator, or anyone else, to deal with its refuse. Let's hope we, the Powell River area residents and politicians, keep building the brighter, greener, less wasteful lifestyle that will be the key our community's healthy future.