Burnaby city council sends organics plant proposed for park back to drawing board

Click to play video: 'City of Burnaby set to reverse course on waste plant on parkland'
City of Burnaby set to reverse course on waste plant on parkland
WATCH: The city of Burnaby appears set to back down on a controversial proposal to build an organic waste plant on Fraser River parkland but as Grace Ke reports, residents are still concerned about a reverse referendum-style process - where the council can give a project the green light unless a certain percentage of voters actively express their opposition to it – Mar 19, 2023

Burnaby, B.C., city council has officially voted to send a controversial plan to build an organics recycling plant in a park near the Fraser River back to the drawing board.

Councillors voted unanimously Monday to scrap an initiative known as an Alternative Approval Process (AAP), essentially a reverse referendum, that would have moved the Green Recycling and Organics project proposal forward.

The decision was met by cheers from a packed council chamber.

Click to play video: 'Burnaby proposing waste plant on parkland'
Burnaby proposing waste plant on parkland

“I’m pleased that city council spoke with one voice in recognition that the public does not support the use of parkland for this project,” Mayor Mike Hurley said in a media release.

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“Despite the fact GRO could deliver significant carbon reductions and allow Burnaby to process its own organic materials, the public did not support the trade-offs required to achieve it.”

Hurley said the city would now look at alternative locations for the project and other initiatives to meet its climate goals.

The proposed facility would have taken 8.5 hectares from the Fraser Foreshore Park, and be able to process about 150,000 tonnes of green recycling and organics annually, about a third of it coming from Burnaby.

Hurley had touted the plant as a key way for the city to meet its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, partly by using gas it produced to fuel vehicles, rather than diesel.

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“There were a lot of efforts done and like I said before we had a lot of support and we weren’t going to back down,” Burnaby resident and project opponent Eudora Koh told Global News.

“If we’re going to be shipping in a 150,000 tomnes from the rest of the lower mainland, it’s everyone’s problem,” added Jasmine Nicholsfigueriedo.

Under B.C.’s Community Charter, municipalities seeking to remove land from parks must gain community approval through one of several processes including the use of an AAP.

Under that process, more than 10 per cent of registered Burnaby voters would need to cast a ballot against the measure in order to stop it.

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