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Tougher erosion control measures coming for Burke Mountain
Coquitlam should have updated its erosion control measures years ago to keep pace with best practices, concludes a consultant's report critical of the city's handling of development on Burke Mountain.
The city has a "perfect storm" of risk factors and needs tighter measures, better monitoring and improved customer service so problems like a mid-October deluge of mud and water down Coast Meridian Road and into creeks doesn't happen again.
At the time, local streamkeepers were aghast that mud and debris was flowing from a development down the street and into Hyde Creek, clogging pipes and potentially causing problems for fish.
In the end, only one developer responsible for three sites was found to be negligent and was shut down from Oct. 15 to Nov. 5.
But the city then embarked on a review of practices and hired CityWorks Consulting Corporation and RK Innovations Inc. to look into concerns on Burke Mountain.
In December, the consultants made 22 recommendations ranging from tougher bylaws to better monitoring, enforcement and customer services.
According to the report, the city hasn't been as "rigorous" as other municipalities in updating erosion and sediment control management even though it has way more risks. For example, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge have a lot of large development sites but they are relatively flat and rainfall is low to moderate.
"The city, by contrast, presents the potential 'perfect storm' combination of high risk factors in all areas" because of the many medium- to large-scale development sites undergoing tree removal and land clearing in steep terrain, and within proximity of environmental sensitive areas with the potential for high rainfall.
The report is also critical of the city for lagging behind other municipalities in updating its erosion and sediment-control procedures, which elsewhere have "evolved tremendously over the last eight years in the Metro Vancouver region."
Raul Allueva, Coquitlam's manager of development services, said all of the recommendations will be followed, with a priority being a new erosion and sediment control bylaw by October, when the next rainy season starts.
"We have pretty high risk factors, we have more rainfall, significantly more, and we need to manage that," Allueva said.
The city would also like to see signs posted on development sites with phone numbers people can call with concerns about erosion and sediment control.
But some of the consultants' recommendations need the input of the development industry and Allueva said consultation is now taking place on a new show home permit policy that would enable developers to build demonstration show homes quickly while still making sure that services are in place for safety and erosion control.
When heavy rain storms are predicted, Allueva said, staff will visit construction sites armed with weather warnings to make sure proper erosion and sediment-control measures are in place, and will shut down sites that aren't prepared.
For now, though, developers seem to be taking appropriate precautions.
"We had no reported problems over the last week. There's a heightened sensitivity to this. A lot of developers know we did shut down those sites [in October] due to the situation," Allueva said.