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North Van city bylaw staff weighing penalties following creek cleanup

Water quality in Tempe Park pond has returned to levels safe for fish
Paint in Creek PM 2 web
Area resident Jason Rivero looks over the pond at Tempe Heights Park that was turned white by a spill of paint upstream earlier in July.

City of North Vancouver staff and city lawyers are still deliberating on what kind of penalty might be handed out to those responsible for dumping paint that resulted in pollution of a local pond this month.

Investigation following the incident July 9 found the paint was dumped into a drain on private property, which then fed into municipal storm drains, according to the City of North Vancouver. The paint turned water in the Tempe Heights Park pond and other nearby watercourses in Greenwood Park a milky white colour, alarming local resident Jason Rivero, who spotted the pollution while out for a walk in the neighbourhood.

A four-day cleanup effort involved pumping water from the pond and using a filtering system to remove turbidity, according to city spokesperson Pardeep Purewal.

Since then, followup testing showed the water quality had returned to within the B.C. water quality guidelines for aquatic life, and no contaminants of concern were found, said Purewal.

Only two invasive species of goldfish were found dead in the pond.

As part of the investigation into the spill, the city hired a contractor to take video of the storm system in the area, which helped to isolate the likely origin of the spill, said Purewal.

“Bylaw staff have spoken to the relevant parties, and will make a determination of followup actions once cleanup costs are known,” Purewal added.

Rivero said he hopes the guilty parties get hit with a fine. “At the very least, they should pay the cost of cleaning,” he said. “Their irresponsibility is astounding.”

Rivero said he’s especially concerned as he has seen similar kinds of fouling of local watercourses in the past.

He’s previously taken photos of strangely coloured water before and sent emails to Environment Canada, but “they sent me to another bureaucratic office somewhere.”

Purewal said it’s important for residents to keep in mind that all storm drains eventually flow into downstream fish habitat.

Depositing any material into the drainage system is also a violation of the local bylaws.

If anyone observes a spill, paint, or chemicals being washed into a stormwater drain, or a contaminated stream, they should call the city operations department at 604-987-7155 or 604-988-2212 (in the case of after-hours emergency). Residents can also call Emergency Management BC at 1-800-663-3456.