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Two developers slapped with $500 fines for polluting Coquitlam creek after citizens raise alarm

Environmentalist frustrated with spills and sewage overflows into Stoney Creek, but Coquitlam says it has a plan to better monitor pollution and provide contacts for reporting creek concerns.
Stoney Creek flows through Coquitlam and Burnaby. Photo taken on Feb. 6, 2021.

A salmon-bearing creek stretching from Coquitlam through Burnaby has been hit by pollution once again.

This week, streamkeepers observed a cloudy discharge in Stoney Creek and quickly alerted officials in both cities.

And while steps have been taken to stop the discharge — and slap two developers with $500 fines — one local environmentalist says he’s fed up with what he considers to be another assault on the pristine watercourse.

“I am without words, we have been bringing attention to the spewing sewage and pollution problems for years. I have no idea what it will take to get our authorities to stop the spewing sewage and other dumps into Stoney Creek,” said George Kovacic with the Stoney Creek Environmental Committee.

On Tuesday (Feb. 1), alert citizens spotted cloudy water in the creek that runs though the Oakdale neighbourhood of Coquitlam at the base of Burnaby Mountain.

According to the city of Coquitlam, staff traced the sludge to two sources: 

  • a development where sanitary upgrade works were in progress and trench water was being pumped into a manhole leading to Harmony Creek, which feeds into Stoney Creek
  • a development site where a water treatment system was discharging turbid water

Officials issued $500 tickets for “prohibitive discharge” to companies responsible for both infractions and a stop work order has been issued at one of the sites, according to a spokesperson. 

Caresse Selk, Coquitlam’s manager of environment, says developers have been told to stop discharging polluted water into the creek.

At one of the sites, work has been stopped until the contractor implements measures for retaining and infiltrating the discharge onsite.

As well, city staff have held meetings with the developer and contractor “to insure this doesn’t happen again,” said Selk.

At the second location, where turbid water was being discharged from the site, city staff told the contractor to shut down their discharge system until it’s repaired. 

On Wednesday (Feb. 2), staff visited the site and confirmed the system was serviced and the water was discharging clear.

This isn’t the first time polluted water has been discharged into the creek.

For citizens, including those who tracked down at least one source of this week’s pollution to a storm drain full of concrete, the situation is becoming untenable.

According to Kovacic, citizens found a storm drain coated in wet concrete at Anskar Court near Robinson Street.

He fears more spills unless development is stopped.

“It is now apparent that the only option remaining available to our governments to protect Stoney Creek, its wildlife, the environment as well as the area residents, pets and property is an immediate development and construction moratorium until our authorities have the time and resources to implement the necessary measures that will stop the spewing sewage and other pollution.”

However, the city maintains it is taking several steps to reduce sewer water overflows, and monitor pollution, and is also going to make it easier for citizens to report spills.

Coquitlam is working with Burnaby to install a live water quality unit (Flowlink) in Stoney Creek this week, which will provide both cities with real-time water quality data for the creek, including pH and turbidity.

The metre is set to help “efforts in quickly identifying the type and source of spills,” Selk explains.

In addition, new signage is being installed where Stoney Creek crosses North Road that will include contact information for both Burnaby and Coquitlam for reporting spills.

The place to call in the event of a spill is Coquitlam’s Engineering and Public Works Customer Service 24-hour line at 604-927-3500 or send an email to

Meanwhile, the city is also planning to replace the Coquitlam city-owned Stoney Creek sewer at a cost of $400,000.

A full account of upgrades and plans for Stoney Creek is expected to come before Coquitlam council at the end of February.

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