In a massive victory, Transport Canada has abandoned proposed regulatory changes that would have allowed small vessels to dump sewage just one nautical mile from shore; bowing to pressure from local health authorities, Vancouver's community of water users, and water quality advocates like Fraser Riverkeeper.
Notice of the proposed changes to the Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals regulation was sent to the Union of BC Municipalities in November of 2014, following a summer that saw some of the worst water quality in recent memory for Metro Vancouver's waterways. E. coli counts for False Creek peaked at 5,404 bacteria per 100 mL of water, more than 5 times the safety limit for paddlers, with Ambleside, Dundarave, Sandy Cove, Eagle Harbour, Whytecliff Park, and Sunset beaches all experiencing closures during the hottest summer months of July and August.
While the exact cause of these soaring bacteria counts remain fuzzy, there is no doubt that easing regulations and allowing boaters to dump their sewage closer to shore would only make an already crappy situation worse. So, when Fraser Riverkeeper learned of these proposed regulatory changes in January, we took action; rallying Vancouver's recreational water users to send Transport Canada a strong message that their proposed changes wouldn't fly here.
It would seem that Transport Canada has heard that message. In an e-mail sent to us on May 6th, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt acknowledged that the proposed changes "will not be proceeding any further in the regulatory process"! This is a huge victory for everyone who cares about protecting our right to swim, drink, and fish our local waterways but we won't stop there!
Fraser Riverkeeper will be partnering with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation on efforts to have Burrard Inlet officially declared a "no discharge zone", making it off-limits for the dumping of sewage and other waste! Furthermore, this summer we'll be on the beaches, as always, raising awareness of local water-quality issues and helping to clean up our waterfront with our volunteer Shore Patrol team and Swim Guide smartphone app.
Our beautiful waterfront and swimmable beaches are a big part of what make Vancouver such a vibrant and livable city. Let's work together to make sure that they stay safe and clean for generations of swimmers and paddlers to come!
You can help us by becoming a donor. A monthly contribution of $50, $25, or even just $10 a month will go a long way in helping to protect your right to swim, drink, and fish in our local waterways.