We learned how to do this right back in 1995 and we are failing to heed those lessons now. Garbage wars were replaced with discussion about garbage.
I had hoped that the amendment to the motion positioning the CMC as a partner in this round of public consultation would re-frame the garbage review as a public lead process, and would defuse the election year concerns being raised by the provincial government and the two opposition parties.
It now appears that the community will not be in, nor share the driver’s seat. I am not blaming staff, the motion did not spell it out as clearly as apparently was required.
We need a waste/resource system review but we need to look back to the last successful review, started 20 years ago, and learn from it.
HRM staff should not conduct nor evaluate the process, nor even hire and oversee consultants to do that. We need to model what we do on the CSC process, and if the amendments to put the CMC in the frame have not been enough to do that, we need to rethink this process and and make the change.
The process itself must be given the resources to do that and as such, maintain credible independence.
After 20 years, now would be an appropriate time for a Citizen-Led, Consensus-Building public process that could examine the state of our waste/resource system and suggest further improvements.
Such a process could ask what is right for our common future in terms of environmental protection, social betterment and economic strength to build resilience and vitality for us all.
Such a process would put all items on the table – if this process found that FEP and WSF provided no value in all of these senses, given the change in the waste stream and new technology, wouldn’t it make sense to remove it from both the existing and future landfills?
How will we know what the waste/resource stream should look like unless we have a publicly lead process?
Such a process would give us the best future in terms of this issue and would be a visionary and welcome process.
To my mind, there is nothing shameful about retrenching. I think council knows what it really wants but we are having trouble getting there. I think it would be best for Council to restart this process as a publicly lead process with a broader mandate, give it 1-3 years to do a review and recommendations, and set a clock in motion for a 10 or 20 year review cycle so we are always looking at best practices.
It looks like we won’t be able to get there very easily now.