GVRD sewage treatment upgrades demanded

Media Release: July 27, 2006

Environmental groups say that Lions Gate, Iona are polluters

VANCOUVER, BC – Environmental organizations are demanding immediate action from the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) and the Greater Vancouver Sewage & Drainage District towards implementing secondary sewage treatment at Lions Gate and Iona sewage treatment plants.

In a letter sent today to the GVRD Board, Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Georgia Strait Alliance and T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation object to the GVRD’s refusal to consider their concerns about inadequate GVRD sewage treatment. The groups are appalled that the GVRD is sending poorly-treated toxic sewage into the marine environment.

“The GVRD has stubbornly rejected the need to upgrade Lions Gate and Iona sewage plants to secondary treatment, despite having evidence that these facilities’ discharges are violating the federal Fisheries Act,” said Lara Tessaro, Staff Lawyer at Sierra Legal.

“At present, the GVRD refuses to remove from its sewage the same toxic substances which have turned Greater Victoria’s sewage outfalls into confirmed contaminated sites,” added Christianne Wilhelmson, Program Coordinator for the Georgia Strait Alliance. “Without upgrading to secondary treatment, the GVRD is risking contamination of Burrard Inlet.”

The Province of BC recently ordered Greater Victoria (the CRD) to submit a plan for expediting implementation of sewage treatment upgrades. However, the Province has made no similar intervention to require the GVRD to upgrade the Lions Gate and Iona facilities, which are located in West Vancouver and Richmond respectively.

“We are very concerned that the Province continues to sanction the GVRD’s toxic sewage disposal,” noted David Lane, Executive Director of the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation. “The Province and GVRD must make an immediate commitment to upgrade to secondary treatment at Lions Gate and Iona, to protect fish and valuable fish habitat.”

Sierra Legal, T Buck Suzuki, and Georgia Strait Alliance remain hopeful that the GVRD will change course at its Board meeting this Friday morning and order GVRD staff to begin working towards an immediate upgrade of Lions Gate and Iona sewage treatment plants.