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Fisheries signs off on Burke watershed plan

A $30-million plan for watershed upgrades in the biggest and busiest neighbourhood on Burke Mountain last week got the signature the city of Coquitlam needed to move on.

A $30-million plan for watershed upgrades in the biggest and busiest neighbourhood on Burke Mountain last week got the signature the city of Coquitlam needed to move on.

The draft Partington Creek Integrated Watershed Plan - a document about five years in the making that lays out the ground rules for a community of 10,000 residents on 900 acres near Minnekhada regional park - got the go-ahead from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The federal approval allows the city to wrap up the Partington Creek Village Neighbourhood Plan, the city's fourth blueprint for growth on the steep mountainside in northeast Coquitlam. Neighbourhood plans were also prepared for Burke's Upper Hyde Creek, Lower Hyde Creek and Smiling Creek and, after Partington Creek is adopted by council next year, work on the Hazel Drive neighbourhood will start.

Under provincial legislation, the city was required to produce an integrated watershed management plan (IWMP) for Partington Creek to handle issues such as stormwater management and environmental mitigation. An IWMP was also done for Hyde Creek but the Partington plan will be the city's first with "net environmental benefits," meaning planners look at the system on a big-picture scale rather than stream-by-stream for fish and fish habitat.

Dana Soong, Coquitlam's manager of utility programs, said the city and fisheries officials had a number of differences with the Partington Creek IWMP that delayed the work for at least a year. In particular, federal biologists didn't want to see the Star Creek tributary system affected anymore, with the loss of its headwater streams.

As a result, city staff shifted the entire 18-acre village core planned for the neighbourhood - which will serve as the hub for Burke Mountain, once developed over the next 20 years - somewhat west, to lands the city mostly owns.

In the end, "it was a win-win," Soong said. "We still can develop the village core and, at the same time, preserve these little tributary watercourses."

In letters made public on Monday, both Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Agricultural Land Commission praised the city for its plans to rebuild Cedar Drive in Coquitlam, moving it slightly south into farmland and raising it. The area is frequently flooded from Burke Mountain run-offs, with Partington Creek draining into DeBoville Slough, at the intersection of Victoria and Cedar drives.

Other IWMP projects on the list include a diversion pipe, baseflow augmentation facilities, water quality ponds and sediment traps. The $30 million will come from development cost charges - levies imposed on developers to pay for infrastructure - although Soong said the city also intends to apply for grants from senior governments.

Partington Creek is federally rated as one of the healthiest watersheds in Metro Vancouver, with a reported 14 or more species of fish.


Copies of the Par-tington Creek IWMP are now available at both branches of the Coquitlam Public Library. An open house is scheduled for June 16, the same time the public will be asked for feedback on the Partington Creek Neighbourhood Plan.

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