Plan for landfill near Terrace, B.C. is still wrong

Were politicians really listening to what the public had to say?

Dear Sir:

Brad North’s guest commentary in the Feb. 20 edition of The Terrace Standard is a sad reflection of a public servant’s view on public opinion around the proposed landfill at Onion Lakes Flats referred to as the Forceman Ridge Landfill site.

Mr. North’s views are much like that of the administration and boards and council of the Kitimat Stikine regional district and City of Terrace who all appear to think their roles give them the sole ability to make decisions for the public they serve.

Rightly so. After all, the taxpayer paid Mr. North for 15 years as an employee responsible for the City of Terrace solid waste program and our representative officials were elected by the public to represent our voices. All were hired or elected to serve the public’s greater good, respond to the public’s concerns and to build our combined vision for the future. Following numerous petitions and presentations  brought to both the regional district and the City of Terrace opposing the Forceman Ridge Landfill site I question the integrity of public process used by our representative experts.

The premise for the location at Onion Lake came from a plan to have one landfill to serve Kitimat, Thornhill and Terrace. After Kitimat withdrew from the plan it would have been logical that the local government explore one landfill site in the Terrace Thornhill region.

Studies for Forceman identified new technology, and this coupled with recycling plans and local composting, should have prompted our local experts to re­‐evaluate local landfill sites as an option.

Despite public requests to do so local government insisted that current landfills sites must close.

Yet the environment ministry has assured me that they would consider issuing operational licenses for either site if the regional district submitted an acceptable proposal for a solid waste management plan for one or both of the current sites.

The same technology the experts identified for the Forceman Ridge studies can be applied to any site and retention of one or both sites should be explored.

In fact, the construction of a new landfill site on an old one is currently proposed for Hazelton.

The public has made official requests that the Terrace landfill site be studied to determine if that original site can be upgraded to mitigate further pollution to a new site.

Ongoing remediation is required for both the Terrace and Thornhill landfill sites regardless of closure.

Developing a third landfill at Forceman seems counter intuitive to waste reduction. Hazelton’s plan seems wiser. The experts at the city and the regional district currently dismiss this request.  Who’s working for whom?

Public opinion has been disregarded. Yes, experts have been paid to conduct studies and their results are not in dispute. That does not mean that they have been directed to study the right thing or to answer the right questions.

Advisory committees were formed but many concerns were not addressed. Yes, there were public meetings with glossy pictures and expert presenters, but concerns were not addressed. Yes, lengthy reports indicate public consultation segments, but public concerns were again not addressed.

The Collins Dictionary defines consultation as talking things over to decide something, which implies equality between parties. The lack of response to public questions and concerns has caused many of us to question the true use of local advisory, consultative processes.

The cost of the various studies for solid waste management in this region is now approaching one million dollars. Paid for by whom? The Kitimat Stikine regional district’s proposed 2013 refuse maintenance budget indicates an increase in cost of $550,605.00. Taxpayers will undoubtedly face increased taxes and user fees to cover this huge 52 per cent increase. Which comes back to my point, who’s working for whom?

Diana Penner,

Chair for RAfaSIE (Residents Advocating for a Sustainable Environment),

Terrace, B.C.