Burnaby set to reverse course on plan to build organic waste plant in park

Click to play video: 'Burnaby backtracking on green waste plant in park'
Burnaby backtracking on green waste plant in park
WATCH: The City of Burnaby appears to be backtracking on its plan to build an organics waste facility in Fraser Foreshore Park – Mar 17, 2023

The City of Burnaby appears set to back down on a controversial proposal to build an organic waste facility on the site of a park on the banks of the Fraser River.

The proposal would see 8.5 hectares of the Fraser Foreshore Park developed into a facility that could process about 150,000 tonnes of green recycling and organics annually, about a third of it coming from Burnaby.

Click to play video: 'Burnaby proposing waste plant on parkland'
Burnaby proposing waste plant on parkland
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Under B.C.’s Community Charter, the law that regulates municipalities, communities that want to re-dedicate parkland must gain community approval through a referendum or, as Burnaby has sought to do, through what’s known as an Alternative Approval Process (AAP).

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An AAP functions essentially as a reverse referendum, in which voters can scuttle an initiative if more than 10 per cent of them cast a ballot against it.

Residents, many opposed to the project, packed a city council meeting on Tuesday, and on Thursday the city issued a media release saying a special council meeting would be held on Monday to reconsider the initiative.

“We’ve been listening to the public, and it’s clear from what they’ve told us that they don’t support the trade-offs that the GRO project would require in its current form,” Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley said in the release.

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“Council has heard loud and clear that while this may be the right project, it is not the right location.”

The mayor had touted the new facility as a key way the city could deliver on its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2050, including using gas produced by the plant to power vehicles and phase diesel out of its fleet.

In promoting the project, Hurley said that addressing the climate change emergency would require “bold” decisions, which may involve difficult trade-offs.

“But they need to be trade-offs our community can support,” Hurley said Thursday.

“We appreciate the people who have engaged with us in a thoughtful and respectful manner on this issue. I am hopeful that City Council will be unanimous in this reconsideration motion so we can cancel this AAP process.”

Hurley said he would now work to direct staff to find a better location for the project or to go back to the drawing board for other “innovative solutions” to the city’s climate goals.

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