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Coquitlam couple could face $500 fine for paint dump in Hoy Creek

Local stream stewards are frustrated following another chemical spill in Hoy Creek despite efforts to educate neighbourhood residents about the risk of pouring liquids down storm drains.
The city of Coquitlam placed a boom to absorb the paint
The city of Coquitlam placed a boom to absorb the paint and stop it from running into the main stem of Hoy Creek.

A Coquitlam couple spotted dumping paint into a catch basin Thursday could be fined up to $500 for polluting Hoy Creek if city investigators confirm they are responsible for thick white sludge that entered the stream near Lasalle Place.

City officials aren’t naming the individuals who they contacted after receiving two independent reports, one of someone dumping paint and another about to dump paint into the creek.

Local stream stewards are frustrated about another chemical spill in Hoy Creek after efforts to educate the neighbourhood's residents about the risk of pouring liquids down storm drains.

“It’s very sad that the area that this came from... is an area that we’ve canvassed just last summer because of that nasty kill we had last year,” said Robbin Whachell, president of the Hoy Scott Watershed Society.

But she is grateful for those who called authorities after spotting paint sludge that had pooled in a side channel, noting that the incident occurred around 2 p.m. and city workers quickly responded by installing a boom to prevent the paint from flowing into the main channel of the creek.

“The boom was put down just in time, which was great,” said Whachell.

According to the city, reports were received about a couple using a bucket to dump paint into a catch basin a few blocks away from Hoy Creek. The catch basin was marked with a yellow fish to indicate that anything that enters the catch basin leads to fish habitat.

The city was able to quickly dispatch two crews to the separate locations, according to Caresse Selk, Coquitlam’s manager of environment. At the first location, staff installed booms in the creek to absorb the paint while at the second location, staff were able to vacuum the remaining paint out of catch basin.

“We were able to determine that the two reports were connected to the same incident,” Selk further stated in an email to the Tri-City News. 

A follow up investigation is taking place to see if the a fine should be levied under the Stream and Drainage System Protection Bylaw and if clean-up costs should be covered, as well.

“We will be reviewing our evidence and looking at our enforcement options next week,” Selk said Friday.

Meanwhile, how many fish were killed in the incident is unknown. Because of high water flows, the fish were likely washed down stream, according to Whachell. And while mortality is unknown, she said it is likely the salmon smolts suffocated from paint getting stuck in their gills.

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