Province approves Metro Vancouver’s visionary plan for Integrated Liquid Waste and Resource Management
A Comprehensive and Holistic Strategy
On June 3,Environment Minister Terry Lake announced that the Province has approved Metro Vancouver’s new and visionary Integrated Liquid Waste & Resource Management Plan.
“The plan deals with the pressures of an increasing population while planning to bring an aging infrastructure up to modern standards,” stated the Minister. “Valid for the next eight years, the plan includes upgrades to two existing wastewater treatment plants and incorporates resource recovery to capture heat and energy from sewage.”
Two years in the making, the Plan establishes the framework for moving beyond regulatory compliance to transitioning Metro Vancouver to an approach that achieves the Sustainable Region Vision.
From Waste to Resource
Liquid waste is the wastewater that is collected from homes, businesses, industries and institutions as well as rainwater runoff and snowmelt. The plan identifies what the region and its member municipalities intend to do to use liquid waste as a resource, minimize treatment costs and better protect the environment and public health.
“In the past, we have thought of sewage as nothing more than waste, when in fact it is a source of nutrients, energy and water that can all be reclaimed and reused,” said Director Greg Moore, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Waste Management Committee. “This innovative new plan, thanks to the input from citizens, businesses, technical experts and other levels of government, gives us the tools to do just that.”
The strategy for managing liquid discharges and rainwater as resources has two tracks: End-of-Pipe and At-the-Source.
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Metro’s Plan: Three Goals
The plan has three key goals: Protect public health and the environment, use liquid waste as a resource, and ensure effective, affordable and collaborative management. These goals are supported by a range of strategies and actions (for more detail, click on Metro Vancouver’s integrated plan).
In addition to resource recovery, the plan also commits Metro Vancouver to replacing the region’s two remaining primary treatment plants – Lions Gate in West Vancouver (by 2020), and Iona Island in Richmond (as soon as possible and no later than 2030) – with new, state-of-the-art secondary treatment plants.
“Both Metro Vancouver and the province agree that completing the plant upgrades is a priority, and, at a cost approaching $1.4 billion, an expensive one for the taxpayers of our region,” said Director Malcolm Brodie, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Finance Committee.
“These upgraded facilities are required by new Canada-wide environmental regulations, and so we will continue to work with our partners in the provincial and federal governments on strategies to fund them jointly.”
Advisory Role of the Reference Panel
Appointed by the Board in April 2008, the advisory Liquid Waste Management Plan Reference Panel played a key role in informing and educating members of the Board through interaction with two regional committees.
“Think about it – the Reference Panel has influenced the waste committee, the finance committee and the way we make decisions overall. It is great,” reflected West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones when the Plan was adopted in May 2010. “The community benefits when there is collaboration and a true partnership between local government staff and community members in a working group”.
Her views were echoed by another Board member, Councilor Andrea Reimer of the City of Vancouver, when she stated that: “We appreciate the Reference Panel leadership on this. It’s been a long road to get a plan, and majority support to have both plants on a timeline closer to 2020 and would have been impossible without the work of the Reference Panel.”
The Reference Panel produced A Recommended Policy Framework for Liquid Resource Management in Metro Vancouver. The Reference Panel identified opportunities to create linkages among the different areas of action – natural environment, built environment, sewage treatment, financing and implementation – thereby helping to create a stronger plan.
About Metro Vancouver
Metro Vancouver through the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District owns, maintains and operates regional trunk sewers and major wastewater treatment plants and regulates industrial waste discharges. Municipal members own and maintain collector sewers, implement municipal actions set out in the regional plan, manage storm drainage systems and set local land use plans and community development standards.