Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Waste: The bad . . . and the good

with 2 comments

Waste: The bad . . . and the good

Christianne Wilhelmson and David Lane, Special to the Sun

Published: Monday, May 28, 2007


Only three of GVRD’s five sewage plants have secondary treatment, none have tertiary. The Lions Gate plant in West Vancouver and Iona plant in Richmond treat sewage at a mere primary level. Primary treatment screens out solids, but leaves behind in the liquid effluent most of the oxygen-depleting organics, heavy metals and bioaccumulative chemicals.Consider this: Every day, Iona dumps the equivalent of 221 Olympic-sized swimming pools of toxic sewage at the mouth of the Fraser River. A growing body of research suggests that this threatens the billion juvenile salmon that migrate annually through these waters. The GVRD acknowledges that primary treatment is inadequate. Its Liquid Waste Management Plan also requires Lions Gate and Iona to be upgraded to secondary.

In other words, everybody agrees: To protect Burrard Inlet and Georgia Strait, the GVRD must upgrade Lions Gate and Iona plants to secondary treatment.

Actually some of us think all five plants need to upgraded to tertiary – like most of the rest of the developed world. Frankly I regard BC’s “thumbing their nose” at the federal government (the article’s words not mine) as shameful. BC is supposed to be a world leader. We invented Greenpeace. We tout ourselves as “The Best Place on Earth”. We strut our stuff on the international stage – and we put on showcases like the Olympics – which, by the way are supposed to lead the world in sustainability. Poisoning our in shore fisheries of course is not seen as part of sustainability in Victoria or Vancouver. That’s why visitors to our beaches will continue to see warnings about the shell fish and locals will warn visitors not to eat farmed salmon. And don’t paddle at Garry Point. Even breathing near Annacis Island is an unpleasant experience.

Odd that governments have deep pockets when dragged before the courts – they will fight this all the way no matter how high the fees run.  I think I would rather my tax dollars went to clean up the muck, rather than defend our “right” to foul our own nest.

On May 31, Sierra Legal and Chapman will be back in court. The big question is: Will the federal government now help to prosecute these polluters — or will it shield the GVRD and the province by shutting down the prosecutions?Christianne Wilhelmson is the Clean Air and Water Co-ordinator with the Georgia Strait Alliance. David Lane is the Executive Director of the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 28, 2007 at 9:11 am

2 Responses

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  1. Chalk it up to GVRD board politicians unwilling to impose huge infrastructure-driven tax increases on their constituents. That’s why the implementatin is spread over such a long time – to lessen the impact on the voting taxpayers (hmm, and GVRD board members aren’t even directly elected).


    May 29, 2007 at 11:49 am

  2. Yes, I understand that. I also think that it reflects pretty badly on us the tax payers that we would rather have filthy beaches where our kids shouldn’t paddle (but obviously do) than see a rise in property tax. Private affluence and public squalor again. We would rather have BMWs and big screen tvs than safe beaches. Or edible shellfish.

    Stephen Rees

    May 29, 2007 at 6:54 pm

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