An effort to block Metro Vancouver from exporting its garbage to the U.S. as a fallback waste-disposal option fell flat at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.
Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta spoke in support of the resolution to ban all international exports of landfillable waste, arguing his town stands to lose more than 100 waste-handling jobs at the Cache Creek Regional Landfill if Metro halts its shipments in 2016 as planned.
Metro plans to build a new waste-to-energy plant but that’s not expected to be ready until late 2018 and it has reserved the temporary option of exporting garbage if necessary.
“We have the best climate and the right geology to safely dispose of waste in our area,” Ranta said.
But Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt, a longtime backer of using garbage as a fuel for power instead of dumping it, said the resolution was out of order because it would violate international trade deals.
“These are goods that can be exported just like coal or gas or wood,” he said of garbage.
Hunt also noted some B.C. communities – including Whistler and Powell River – already export their waste to a Washington State landfill run by Rabanco, which hopes to land Metro Vancouver as a customer as well.
“[A provincial ban] would make all those contracts null and void, which is contrary to international free trade,” he said.
The resolution from the Thompson-Nicola regional district was defeated on Thursday.
Hunt said U.S. exports are just one option for Metro and the regional district could still negotiate to extend its use of the Cache Creek landfill if it needs to send more waste out of the region.
Taxpayers should benefit if there’s more than one bidder, he added.