Letters to the Editor: Lost and Stripped

Ron Bolin: Nov. 13, 2013

I have recently written two letters to the Editor of the Nanaimo Daily News regarding issues which I believe are important, not only to me, but to the general public of Nanaimo.  One was not published, apparently due to my chiding of the author of a significant story that his reporting was perhaps misleading, and another which, while within the length limits allowed, was significantly trimmed for no apparent reason.   I present these letters here.  I would appreciate your comments on whether my complaint here is reasonable or merely the ranting of a poor loser.

At the COW meeting of November 4, 2013, in item 7(f) Council (watch item 7(f) in the video and listen to the Introduction to the item by Mayor Ruttan and our new City Manager Mr. Swabey), where the recommendation from Staff  in the agenda distributed  was to write to Metro Vancouver indicating that the City of Nanaimo was not interested in hosting an incinerator for burning Metro Vancouver’s garbage, this recommendation was apparently countermanded by Mayor Ruttan and changed at the meeting to a recommendation to simply receive the report.


The significance of this change remains unclear, but here is the gist of the matter:

Letter to the Editor, Nanaimo Daily News:( Sent Nov. 5, 2013)
Re:  Incinerator options presented to Council: Spencer Anderson, NDN, Oct. 5,  2013
It is naïve, perhaps disingenuous, to report that “Council held off  rejecting or embracing a proposal to build a waste-to-energy incinerator at  Duke Point…”  What actually happened following a change in Staff’s  recommendation without adequate notice, is that the City lost control over the  situation.  The original recommendation in the agenda would have provided  notice to Metro that Nanaimo was not interested in the facility.  Metro  Vancouver had previously noted that they would not give further consideration  to any municipality which did not desire it.
The effect of Council’s  decision yesterday took the option away from the City and its Citizens and  left it to Metro and the local bidders: Wheelabrator, Urbaser and Seaspan who,  among them, own land at Duke Point zoned for waste disposal.  Apparently  mislead by the notion that more needs to be known about this project, Council  and others have overlooked the fact that we have had many months to come to  some conclusions about the safety and utility of a facility which proposes to  bring 375,000 tons of garbage from Metro Vancouver to Nanaimo in barges and  burn it here.  And who is going to haul all those ashes?  Over the  past months the partners in this bid have held private meetings with Council  and City Staff.  Staff have also had discussions with Metro on the  topic.  To say that we know nothing about this project and therefore need  to give it more time is preposterous.
As Nov. 15th is the deadline for Metro to select the five contenders for the honour of providing their garbage dump, we can only hope that Metro will man up to the responsibility of  managing their own waste.  Council has taken it out of our hands.

Ron Bolin

As we have not removed ourselves from the running as a possible trash burner in the time apparently allowed for outright rejection, what opportunities remain?  Subsequent correspondence with Metro on this subject is ambiguous:

 Mr. Bolin:
 Thank you for your email to Sarah Wellman regarding the potential site identification process for Metro Vancouver’s New Waste-to-Energy (WTE) Capacity Project.
 The development of new waste-to-energy capacity is a multi-phase process with opportunities for consultation with stakeholders, including the public, throughout the process. Community support for potential new waste to energy projects will be a key criterion in evaluating potential projects.
At this phase in the process, 9 proponents with 10 ten submissions have been selected to participate in subsequent phases of the procurement process. In the first phase of the process (RFQ1), these proponents demonstrated the capability to process municipal solid waste for Metro Vancouver based on existing facilities using their proposed waste-to-energy approach.
The current phase of the project will identify all potential sites both in and out of region.  Metro Vancouver will announce sites secured by proponents for their own use at a Special Meeting of the Zero Waste Committee on November 21. Sites offered by landowners for potential use by all proponents will be identified once analysis of those offers is complete, and sites have been optioned for purchase or lease. Once potential sites are identified, Metro Vancouver will conduct public events in proximity to each site. These events will provide information on the process to develop waste-to-energy capacity, and provide an opportunity for community members to provide input on criteria for evaluating proponent submissions in subsequent phases of the project.
In the next phase of the process (RFQ2) expected to commence in 2014, proponents will submit further information providing details of their proposed approach including community benefits related to the project. Proponents will also have the opportunity to provide evidence of community support for their projects. Proponents will be required to comply with local bylaws and municipal development approval processes. Metro Vancouver will carry-out a full environmental assessment for any project selected.    
Thank you again for writing.
Paul Henderson, P.Eng
General Manager, Solid Waste Services
Metro Vancouver
4330 Kingsway
V5H 4G8

If, due to our refusal to remove ourselves from the competition by the time indicated, we are found to be in the running, what leverage to we have for removal later if we should so decide?

The staff report on this matter gave three options:

Option 1Advise Metro that Nanaimo does not support a waste-to-energy facility within the
boundaries of the city.
Council and City staff have discussed this issue with Metro staff and has been advised by them
that if the City of Nanaimo provides written notice that Nanaimo does not support their waste-toenergy facility, sites in Nanaimo will no longer be considered.
Option 2Amend the Zoning Bylaw to prohibit waste-to-energy facilities.
Prohibiting the waste-to-energy facility could also affect any future local waste-to-energy uses.
Staff understands there are processes under review by industry in Nanaimo that involve
converting waste-to-energy (i.e., compost to biofuel). The implication of eliminating the use is
potentially negative for local business and for the management of solid waste in the region.
Option 3– Do not take any action at this time. The primary implication of this option is the Metro process would continue and include the
current candidate proposal for a waste-to-energy site proposed at Duke Point.

The conclusion of the report gives the following recommendation:

In conclusion, if Council would like to act on this issue, staff recommend Council give direction to write to Metro outlining its opposition to the waste-to-energy facility within the boundaries of the city.

In this context it is worthwhile reviewing the introduction to this item (7-f) on the video of the meeting:


Nanaimo pays its Staff very well in order to get and keep knowledgeable and professional staff.  Is this a case where political interests have overwhelmed professional judgement?  Why, and what are the implications for the health and wealth of the Citizens of Nanaimo?

In a related matter concerning public health and wealth, another letter to the Editor of the Daily News was published today, shorn of it impact.  Here is the letter in full.  It was within the word length rule and I will let you be the judge of the impact of the removals.  I consider them very significant.  The redacted portions are indicated in red.

Letter to the Editor:

Watching the Remembrance Day ceremonies today I was again reminded of the sacrifice of those who fought and died for our freedom.  I also wonder what they think about the right of a monopoly corporation to demand, either that we accept their active radiation device on our homes and castles, or alternatively, that we pay an extortionate fee for the privilege of not having it?  Hydro doesn’t have to do this. They can put their “smart” meter radio transmitter on their end of the unique line that brings power to my home.    I recently heard a local lady proudly tell how she had reduced her hydro bill to only $15/mo.  Does she realize that unless she takes a “smart”meter her bill will increase by 200%?

I have no quarrel with those who accept the device on their home.  We have found ourselves at similar junctions before and have made our individual choices:  to smoke or not to smoke; to use asbestos insulation or not; to take thalidomide or not, etc.  But never before have we been told that unless we take a product like an active radio transmitter on our home, we will be forced to pay an extortionate fee to a monopoly for the privilege of NOT having one.

There is no more important time than this to remember the words of Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

Ron Bolin

I note with humility that Laurence E. Wayman, an 89 year old veteran of WWII, wrote a much better letter which was published in the daily News yesterday.  See:


As a footnote I add that at 1:30 tomorrow, Nov. 14, at the Eagles Hall in Ladysmith, there will be a showing of the documentary: Take Back Your Power, dealing with the issue of RF radiation and “smart” meters.  It will also be shown in Meeting Room A of the Harbourfront Branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library at 1 pm on Sunday, Nov. 17.  You will find the film informative.