Fate of proposed incinerator left in limbo

North Okanagan Regional District directors leave plans for a garbage incinerator in Spallumcheen hanging

The fate of a contentious incinerator proposal continues to smoulder.

Regional District of North Okanagan staff recommended that a waste-to-energy facility not be supported, but directors decided not to take any action Wednesday.

“There are so many things to still look at,” said chairperson Herman Halvorson.

“We’re still waiting for information from the proponent.”

Halvorson expects the board will eventually have to decide if RDNO’s garbage will be directed towards an incinerator and whether $10,000 will be provided for a study into the feasibility of the plant, which is proposed for part of the Splats’in First Nation near Spallumcheen’s Hullcar area.

RDNO staff indicated that existing landfills have 23 to 59 years of capacity left, and incineration would be a dramatic shift away from the region’s solid waste management plan.

However, director Wayne Lippert says the debate shouldn’t simply be about changing direction.

“It’s a matter of keeping an open mind to alternatives,” he said.

A similar view is held by director Dave Brew.

“We can’t close our eyes to this. In Sweden and lots of places, these things work really well,” he said of incinerators.

But others have concerns, particularly about possibly burning waste after encouraging residents for years to recycle.

“I have a lot of questions about the process,” said director Mike Macnabb.

“They don’t have one operating now. Let’s not be the first.”

It’s been suggested that incineration would reduce landfill operating costs, but director Doug Dirk disagrees.

“You can burn everything but you would still have to close the landfills,” he said referring to provincial regulations that require regional districts to put money aside for eventual closure of dumps.

Vancouver-based CanKor Pacific Waste and Energyhas stated that the first phase of its $100 to $200 million incinerator project could collect 400 tonnes of garbage per day.

Some residents in the Hullcar area have expressed concern about traffic and possible contamination of the environment from an incinerator.