Skip to content

City of North Vancouver sues painter over pond pollution

The city is attempting to recover more than $32,000 spent cleaning up the mess
This pond in Tempe Heights Park was turned white by a paint spill on July 9, 2022, the City of North Vancouver states in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News files

The City of North Vancouver is suing a painting contractor it says contaminated a pond and creek system with acrylic paint.

On July 9, 2022, city staff responded to a report of a foreign substance in the Tempe Heights Park pond. It turned out to be paint, which city staff traced through the stormwater system to a home that had been recently painted on Tempe Crescent, according to a civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court. Through the storm system, the pollution spread to Greenwood Park and Wagg Creek.

“City staff and contractors immediately took emergency steps to contain the spill, prevent the pollutant from spreading further and to remediate the pond and drainage system. These steps included isolating the pond for two days of surface skimming and four days of recirculation filtration, water quality monitoring and fish and wildlife impact monitoring response,” the claim states.

The suit names Top Notch Painting Services Ltd, its sole director Jack Zarowny and one employee who, as of Feb. 23, had not been served with the suit.

According to the city’s claim, on July 14, the employee admitted to a city bylaw officer that in the course of finishing the job, “he had poured excess paint down a drain tile.”

In November that year, the suit alleges, Zarowny admitted to the city’s bylaw manager that brushes from the job were washed in a bucket, the contents of which were poured down a downspout.

All told, the city spent $32,304 on the environmental remediation, which the city billed to Top Notch.

“The invoice has not been paid,” the city’s court documents state.

Top Notch’s actions amounted to a trespass, nuisance, negligence and a breach of the city’s drainage bylaw, the court documents allege.

In the suit, the city is asking the courts to award general damages and special damages, plus interest, and to have their legal costs covered.

Reached for comment on Feb. 23, Zarowny said the matter had been resolved with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

“It has been resolved in 2023. There’s nothing filed,” he said. “Somebody’s trying to make something out of nothing.”

On March 6, the defendants filed a response to the civil claim.

"Did not dispose hazardous substance," it read.

This story has been updated to add a response from the defendants.