Watercourse Protection in Stoney Creek

Background

Coquitlam has many important watersheds and is committed to protecting these through a comprehensive suite of policies, tools, and programs aimed at protecting and improving water quality. This includes a significant focus on Stoney Creek through the many initiatives and strategies outlined below. 

Real-Time Monitoring

A leader in the Lower Mainland, Coquitlam recently purchased and installed innovative technology to provide real-time creek water quality monitoring.  Two units were installed in Stoney Creek this spring to provide City staff with continuous in-stream water quality data and a third unit was installed on a development site in the Stoney Creek Watershed as a pilot to inform the City of the potential to expand this technology to development sites across the city.  The monitoring data received to date has been valuable in providing with the City early notice of spills, and stopping some spills at the source, which has led to a recent improvement in Stoney Creek water quality.

Sanitary Overflow Monitoring and Mitigation

Metro Vancouver’s aging sewer system was put to the test in late 2021 when extreme atmospheric river events overwhelmed sewer systems across British Columbia, including Coquitlam and Stoney Creek. Coquitlam is actively working with Port Moody, Burnaby, and Metro Vancouver to prevent rainwater and groundwater from entering into and overwhelming our aging sewer system. Many of the different strategies the City is employing to upgrade the sewer system are outlined in a recent open Report to Council (PDF).

Metro Vancouver’s 2022–2026 Capital Plan (PDF) includes increasing the capacity of the Stoney Creek Sanitary Trunk Sewer along its full length from Port Moody, through Coquitlam and Burnaby.

As almost 50% of the sewer system is on private property and is privately owned, the majority of excess stormwater in the Stoney Creek Sanitary Trunk Sewer makes its way in via downspouts on private property that are incorrectly connected to the sanitary system instead of the storm sewer system. Leaks in privately-owned pipes also contribute to increased flows. Coquitlam, along with the cities of Port Moody and Burnaby, are working in coordination with Metro Vancouver to identify and correct unauthorized connections to sanitary sewers.

Actions To-Date 

Sanitary Sewer Inflow & Infiltration Rates (5-Year) Map as of December 2021

Inflow & Infiltration Estimates for Stoney Creek

Timeline of Actions - Stoney Creek

Homeowners also need to do their part to inspect, repair, and replace their portion of the sewer system on their property. Coquitlam has initiated a public education campaign, supported by online resources, to help achieve this. See also the following resources offered by Metro Vancouver:

Integrated Watershed Management Plans

The City has developed Integrated Watershed Management Plans for all urban watershed in Coquitlam, including Stoney Creek (PDF), in order to help preserve watershed health, while also meeting community housing need by facilitating growth and development.  

Enforcement

Environmental and Worksite Bylaw Officers conduct daily development site patrols in both the north and south of the city and have increased their focus on monitoring sites within the Stoney Creek Watershed.  The officers enforce the City’s Stream and Drainage System Protection Bylaw (PDF) including the erosion and sediment components of development projects from start to finish.  In addition to levying the maximum fines allowable under the Local Government Act, the City also uses stop work orders as necessary to gain compliance at development sites.  

Bylaw Fine Amounts

Coquitlam’s Bylaw Enforcement Notices (BEN) system, which is authorized under the Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act, establishes the maximum fine local governments can issue. Currently, the legislation limits this to $500 daily. 

Recognizing the need for stronger penalties, Coquitlam has undertaken advocacy with the Province to increase the maximum allowable Local Government fine amounts. 

Education and Outreach

Storm Drain Marking Program

Coquitlam is currently working with the Oakdale Neighbourhood Association to complete storm drain marking in the Stoney Creek Watershed. Yellow fish are being painted adjacent to storm drains to remind residents, as well as business and developers, that all storm drains lead to sensitive fish habitat.  

Adopt-A-Catch Basin Program

Launched in September 2021, the City’s Adopt-A-Catch Basin Program encourages community members to become catch basin stewards by adopting, cleaning and reporting dumping and other issues to the City. Through this program, over 360 catch basins have now been adopted city-wide, including many in the Stoney Creek Watershed.  

Spill Reporting

Installed in February 2022, new signage along Stoney Creek between North Road and Rathburn Culvert provides contact information for the cities of Burnaby and Coquitlam for reporting any spills or concerns observed in the creek.  

  • Anyone witnessing a contaminated creek or stream, chemicals entering the storm drainage system, or materials spilled onto public roadways, are asked to report it as soon as possible to: 604-927-3500 (monitored 24/7)
  • Email (monitored 24/7) 

These reports ensure the appropriate response team is rapidly dispatched to investigate and take the necessary action to protect human health and the environment.

Project Greenlight 

In May 2022, Coquitlam launched its participation in Project Greenlight including an Open Call for innovative water management solutions that:

  • Manage stormwater that provides flood protection while protecting ecological health under current and future climate conditions.
  • Monitor and manage sewer inflow and infiltration, and reduce the impacts of sanitary sewer overflows.
  • Monitor and maintain healthy waterways. 

Development Requirements

Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) techniques are important to maintaining clean, healthy watercourse ecosystem and supporting aquatic wildlife. Coquitlam’s long-standing efforts to protect the integrity of the drainage system and aquatic environments includes the adoption of sustainable development practices for all construction activities and significant requirements for multi-family and commercial development sites, as detailed on the City’s Erosion and Sediment Control page. 

Creek Water Quality Improvement Program (Grant Application)

In early 2022 Coquitlam City Council endorsed an ambitious $10M grant application (PDF) to improve creek health in Stoney Creek and across all of Coquitlam. This application for Federal and Provincial funding is under review, with a decision anticipated in spring 2023.