Make False Creek ‘swimmable’: Mayor
Councillors hope initiative will help speed up cleanup
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.
Vancouver’s false Creek