Make False Creek ‘swimmable’: Mayor

Coun­cil­lors hope ini­tia­tive will help speed up cleanup

StarMetro Vancouver - - VANCOUVER - Jen St. de­nis

Break out the Speedo — Van­cou­ver city coun­cil­lors hope a mo­tion passed to­day will get False Creek and other ur­ban wa­ter­ways “swimmable as soon as pos­si­ble.”

“New York is re­ally where I first got in­spired by let­ting go of the be­lief that things are just the way they are when it comes to wa­ter,” said Coun. An­drea Reimer of ef­forts to clean up the Hud­son River.

An­other ex­am­ple is an area of the Copen­hagen har­bour right in the mid­dle of the city that was once pol­luted, but is now a pop­u­lar out­door swim­ming spot.

“The thing that re­ally strikes me is that we just ac­cept this as a so­ci­ety, that there’s a cer­tain level of pol­lu­tion that ex­ists in wa­ter­ways around large cities.”

Reimer’s mo­tion, which coun­cil ap­proved on May 30, called for a wa­ter­front ini­tia­tive to bring to­gether the city, in­dus­try, First Na­tions, non-prof­its and other lev­els of govern­ment to work to­gether to clean up wa­ter­ways like Bur­rard In­let, False Creek, Trout Lake, Lost La­goon and the Fraser River.

While Mayor Gre­gor Robert­son spoke of want­ing to get False Creek “swimmable,” clean­ing up the wa­ter to the point that First Na­tions could once again har­vest shellfish is an­other goal of the ini­tia­tive. For in­stance, the TsleilWau­tuth have not been able to gather shellfish from ar­eas like Bur­rard In­let and In­dian Arm — once a pri­mary food source — for decades be­cause of pol­lu­tion.

“An en­tire way of life has been wiped out, so we can have a life. It shouldn’t have to be that way,” Reimer said.

There are many causes of pol­lu­tion in lo­cal wa­ter­ways: sewage, boat dis­charge, peo­ple lit­ter­ing and in­dus­trial pol­lu­tion.

One project al­ready un­der­way in­volves sep­a­rat­ing sewage pipes from wa­ter pipes (nor­mally it’s fine that one pipe car­ries both, but when it rains heav­ily sewage gets dis­charged into False Creek).

An­other is the Park Board’s at­tempt to use rain­wa­ter to pro­vide fresh wa­ter flow to Trout Lake, a nat­u­ral lake that no longer has a stream flow­ing through it as it once did.

Still Creek, which runs through an in­dus­trial part of East Van­cou­ver, has been re­stored to the point that sal­mon have re­turned. And city staff re­cently iden­ti­fied sewage from boats as the main con­trib­u­tor to high E. coli counts (i.e., poop) in False Creek. The city is now test­ing a mo­bile pump-out ser­vice to try to re­duce that pol­lu­tion.

Jen­nifer Gau­thier/Metro file

Van­cou­ver’s false Creek

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