Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie (left) chairs the Metro Vancouver zero waste committee. Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross opposes construction of any new garbage incinerator in the region.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie (left) chairs the Metro Vancouver zero waste committee. Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross opposes construction of any new garbage incinerator in the region.

Metro incineration consultants exit after ‘biased’ email

FVRD reps had voiced concern about firm overseeing waste-to-energy procurement

A consulting company overseeing Metro Vancouver’s waste-to-energy procurement process has withdrawn after the regional district decided the firm’s role was tainted by the emergence of an email showing “unacceptable bias” from a staff member.

Metro officials agreed HDR Corp.’s $1.9-million contract, which was up for likely renewal at the end of December, should end because of a May 18 email from a senior HDR staff member to a Metro manager.

“The email, if read on its face, seemed to indicate the possibility of a bias towards certain technologies,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who chairs Metro’s zero waste committee.

He would not say if the email showed preference towards mass-burn incineration or to one of a variety of other technologies that could be used in a new plant to burn 370,000 tonnes per year of Metro garbage.

Brodie said the email didn’t come to the attention of senior Metro managers until early November but officials then took “immediate action.”

He said Metro’s procurement process – now underway – was not compromised or inappropriately designed as a result of HDR’s work, adding the HDR staffer who sent the email didn’t have any technical involvement in the work.

Even a perception of bias couldn’t be allowed, he added.

“We’re under an obligation to have a fair and unbiased and complete and transparent process,” Brodie said.

He said a new consulting firm will be found to oversee the process.

Four independent experts have been selected to help guide the process and HDR was to oversee them.

Brodie wasn’t able to say how much money or time the change might cost taxpayers.

Metro is now inviting firms to propose technologies and later in 2013 it will ask short-listed firms and other property owners to propose sites. The region intends to send garbage to a new waste-to-energy plant or plants starting in 2018 and end shipments to the Cache Creek landfill.

A statement issued by HDR said the email could be perceived as attempting to influence the procurement process but adds that did not happen.

“The process was not influenced but we want to avoid any appearance of impropriety, so we asked Metro Vancouver to end our contract in the project’s best interest.”

Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) politicians have repeatedly accused Metro Vancouver of being biased in favour of building a new incinerator in the region – where they say it would worsen air pollution in the Valley – rather than fairly considering alternatives.

“Something just seems really fishy here,” Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross said.

She said she raised concerns about HDR with Metro months ago after they learned former Metro waste policy manager Ken Carrusca now works for the firm as its solid waste manager for western Canada.

The ex-manager had been involved in previous Metro-led consultations about waste-to-energy that FVRD reps charged were pro-incineration. HDR said Carrusca was not the sender of the email.

“We had a concern he was so closely tied to Metro Vancouver and this was supposed to be an independent firm with fresh eyes on the subject,” Ross said.

She said it’s frustrating Metro Vancouver accuses Valley politicians of playing on emotion rather than science, adding she believes their criticisms that incinerators are unsafe and likely unnecessary will be vindicated.

“We will prove them wrong in the end,” Ross said. “But my fear is ultimately, they’ll still build these things.”

 

ABOVE RIGHT: Former Metro Vancouver Integrated Planning Division Manager Ken Carrusca.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Firefighters battle a house fire in Fleetwood on Dec. 2, 2020. (Photos: Shane MacKichan)
One man sent to hospital, two people arrested after Surrey fire

‘This was so frightening to see in person,’ witness posts after blaze at 160th Street and 89th Avenue

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judge finds Surrey RCMP breached two robbery suspects’ Charter rights

This was in connection with the robbery of the Ritecare Pharmacy in Surrey on Oct. 10, 2017

Surrey Hospitals Foundation president and CEO Jane Adams is officially one of “Canada’s Most Powerful CEOs” as one of the winners of the 2020 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award. (Submitted photo: Surrey Hospitals Foundation)
Surrey Hospitals Foundation’s Jane Adams is one of ‘Canada’s Most Powerful CEOs’

Awards recognize 106 ‘outstanding’ who ‘advocate for workforce diversity’

This year’s White Rock RCMP children’s clothing drive was the best yet, organizers say. (Contributed photo)
White Rock RCMP children’s clothing drive ‘best ever’

Month-long annual event wrapped up Dec. 1

Representatives from the Delta Firefighters’ Charitable Society and local retailers present cheques for $5,000 to Priscilla Belonio from WINGS - Azure Place and Wayne Connorton from the South Delta Starfish Pack program, proceeds from the society’s “We’re in this Together” t-shirt campaign. (Dave Mason/contributed photo)
Delta firefighters t-shirt campaign raises over $11,000

Funds donated to Azure Place transition house, South Delta Starfish Pack program

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Suspect tries to thwart police in Abbotsford with false 911 call about men with guns

Man twice sped away from officers and then tried to throw them off his trail

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read