Director accused of fear-mongering

Fanned flames of waste incinerator controversy during civic election

Outgoing councillor Roy Grant says a newsletter written by a Strathcona Regional District director, accusing Campbell River council members of supporting a mass burn garbage facility, is “slanderous” and “fear-mongering.”

Grant said Jim Abram, regional director for Area C (Quadra and Discovery Islands), lied in a memo that was circulated on Quadra Island through a local newspaper.

“This article is nothing short of slanderous mis-information. Nothing short of intentional fear-mongering,” Grant said at last Thursday’s Regional District board meeting. “Our city council has not discussed a mass burn site at the Elk Falls Mill site, either in public city council meetings or in-camera (behind closed doors). There are no secrets.”

Abram, who writes a twice monthly report in the Discovery Islander to keep his constituents informed and up-to-date, wrote in a newsletter on Nov. 7 that “Campbell River has high hopes for a facility at the Elk Falls mill site for a ‘mass burn’ site…that means no sorting, just dumping raw garbage into an incinerator and lighting it up.” Abram goes on to tell his constituents “as you can imagine, I was horrified, having spent so many years monitoring the pollution from the mill.” Abram finished the letter by saying “I thought you should know about this since it will be a very major dispute in the next few months. This will affect us. I must say here, that so far we have no details and it may never happen. But keep informed just in case.”

Abram said there was “absolutely nothing slanderous and anything intentional in the newsletter” but that he was informing his readers on Quadra Island of what occurred at a Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management Board (which Regional District directors sit on) meeting on Nov. 3 in Campbell River.

Abram said at that meeting, there was a conversation between the directors about whether or not any municipality in the region should be able to regulate a deal with a waste management corporation without having to refer it back to the Solid Waste Management Board.

Abram said he and two other directors wanted to see the Solid Waste Management Plan incorporate their concerns of allowing municipalities to go ahead with waste management deals without consulting the board. “We lost fair and square and all I did was report that to my constituents which I had every right to do as a director,” Abram said. “I was reporting information and they (directors) took it as having to do with them when it had nothing to do with them. Period.”

Outgoing councillor Ziggy Stewart, who also sits on the Solid Waste Management Board, said Abram made “false statements” about what happened at the meeting. Stewart said Abram was unhappy the other directors would not agree to strike the option of a Waste-to-Energy facility at the mill site from the AECOM consultant report, which provides seven recommendations for dealing with solid waste and the Campbell River landfill which is near capacity.

“He was politicking, the man’s got no morals,” Stewart said. “The fact is the Solid Waste Management Board was doing due diligence in learning what options were available before spending millions of dollars to dig another hole in the ground, which is all in the report. The mass burn site was brought up by AECOM but it was not under consideration.

“If there was justice in this world, Mr. Abram would apologize to the Waste Management Board for his false comments.”

Coun. Claire Moglove re-affirmed Grant and Stewart’s statements in a recent press release.

“A mass burn incinerator is not being considered as part of the Comox-Strathcona Regional Solid Waste Plan,” Moglove said. “To be clear, the City of Campbell River is not taking ‘bids’ on anything to do with the Catalyst site. The Catalyst site is privately owned, and the city has no authority to ‘take bids’ for any enterprise on privately-owned land. The city can facilitate meetings, the city can introduce potential investors to land owners, but the city cannot take ‘bids.’”

The Solid Waste Management Plan will move to the public consultation phase in 2012 before a decision on how to deal with the region’s solid waste is made. Options being considered are one regional landfill in the Comox Valley, one regional landfill in Campbell River or two regional landfills, one in Comox Valley and the other in Campbell River.

 

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