Agenda Index City of Vancouver


TO: Vancouver City Council

FROM: General Manager of Engineering Services in consultation with the Director of City Plans

SUBJECT: Brunette Basin Watershed Plan




The Still Creek CD-1 Guidelines (adopted April 1990) call for development to occur in a manner consistent with retaining and enhancing the open watercourse. Policies and guidelines for Highway Oriented Retail and I-2 and I-3 uses in the Grandview/Boundary Industrial area (adopted July 1999) reinforce the enhancement of Still Creek including daylighting wherever possible.

The Greenways Plan and Green Zone (adopted July 1995) call for the protection and enhancement of Vancouver's ecologically important areas, including Still Creek.

Council has previously approved a number of recommendations concerning the development of the Liquid Waste Management Plan which include staff participation on related task force groups.

Directions under the City Plan approved by Council include:

· consider environmental impacts when making decisions on land use, transportation, and City services;

· establish spending priorities for City and regional sewer, water and transportation improvements.


To summarize the key findings and recommendations of the draft Brunette Basin Watershed Plan and to recommend activities in the Plan related to the Still Creek drainage basin.


The Brunette watershed on the Burrard peninsula is a 73 square kilometre, highly urbanized area that drains to the Fraser River. It contains major concentrated growth centres, dense industrial and residential areas, major traffic and utility corridors, extensive road networks and a population of over 175,000 people. Over 20 percent of the watershed area currently exists as protected park, water bodies, wetlands or undeveloped green space.

The Brunette watershed receives drainage and stormwater runoff from portions of Vancouver (Still Creek), Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster and Port Moody. It is also defined as a "Drainage Area" under the Greater Vancouver Sewerage & Drainage District Act with the District, on behalf of its members, responsible for drainage conveyance in the main Still Creek/Brunette channel and the lower portions of several tributaries. The basin area in Vancouver represents approximately 13% of the entire watershed.

Recognizing the importance of this waterway, the Brunette Basin Task Group (BBTG) was formed under the Greater Vancouver Regional District's (GVRD's) Liquid Waste Management Plan initiative in 1997 as a pilot project in multi-stakeholder, consensus-based urban watershed management. It consists of representatives from all municipalities in thedrainage basin, GVRD, Department of Fisheries & Oceans, Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks, UBC Institute for Resources and Environment, BCIT Fish and Wildlife and the Sapperton Fish and Game Club. As part of the process, three open houses were also held to obtain input from the public. The BBTG has completed a draft Plan (copy on file in City Clerk's Office) and has made several recommendations.


In a complex urban area such as the Brunette Basin, activities by residents, businesses, environmental stewardship groups, municipalities, the GVRD, and senior governments all impact the watershed. In order to provide a balanced approach to meet the environmental, urban growth, public recreation and flood risk management challenges, a watershed plan is widely recognized as the basic building block of an integrated solution.


The Brunette Basin Watershed Plan was developed with the overall goal to "protect or enhance the integrity of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and the human populations they support in a manner that accommodates growth and development". The Plan has four objectives:

Based on these goals and objectives, a set of guiding principles was established and used as a framework to plan and evaluate programs. These principles were developed into three main themes: Impervious Area, Stream Corridor Protection, and Integrated Approach.

The Plan calls for generally minimizing "Impervious Areas" where possible in the drainage basin. The imperviousness of an area is determined to be critical to a stream's hydrology and habitat. There are many benefits from a water quantity and quality perspective in returning water to the soil, which acts as a sponge and filter, rather than collecting the water on impervious surfaces and piping it to the nearest stream.

With regard to "Stream Corridor Protection", the Plan states that stakeholder agencies should work toward protecting and enhancing existing stream habitat and riparian areas, establishing effective buffers over the long term, utilizing Best Management Practices to reduce runoff and to enhance base flows and designing new in stream structures to accommodate fish passage. In addition, stream corridors should be protected and managed by balancing the needs for storm water conveyance, recreational use, protecting life and property from flooding, and protecting aquatic habitat. Watershed strategies must also be cost effective, affordable and reliable.

With regard to the "Integrated Approach", the Plan states that strategic options should be integrated with land use planning, operations and maintenance, development programs, and other agency programs. It also states that activities within the watershed should be coordinated to provide continued and effective partnership and participation among all levels of government, regulatory agencies, businesses and the local community.

The Plan proposes that all municipalities, the GVRD and senior governments integrate the goals, objectives and guiding principles into their day-to-day operations in the watershed. Accordingly, it is recommended that Vancouver take these into consideration when carrying out activities in the Still Creek drainage basin. As noted below, strategic options for the Brunette Basin need to be coordinated with planning for the Grandview/Boundary Industrial Area


To assist in coordinating the work in the drainage basin, the Plan proposes that a committee be established made up of the GVRD, municipalities, and other stakeholders within the Brunette Basin. Their mandate will be to help facilitate current programs and examine the proposed strategic options listed in Appendix A in order to develop additional work programs. Any major work programs that are developed from these options would be subject to Council approval prior to their implementation.

It is recommended that Council endorse the formation of the coordinating committee and that staff from Vancouver be authorized to sit on this committee. Staff participation would be integrated into existing work and would not require additional funding.

Many initiatives in the Plan have already been completed or are currently underway. With respect to improving water quality in Vancouver, staff have recently completed an inflow/infiltration and cross-connection project in the Still Creek area and new impervious area regulations are currently being considered to limit the amount of impervious areas on residential properties. Other major initiatives being examined include developing flood protection measures for Still Creek, daylighting culverted portions of Still Creek asdevelopment occurs, and developing memorandums of understandings with senior governments with respect to new regulations under the Fish Protection Act. In July 1999 Council approved proceeding with Grandview/Boundary Industrial area planning including development in support of the Skytrain stations, opportunities for high-tech industry, (I-3) and Highway Oriented Retail along Grandview Highway. Since Still Creek runs through the precinct, Grandview/Boundary planning initiatives must be coordinated with stream protection opportunities.


The Brunette Basin Watershed Plan has been developed to reflect a balance of watershed management options with respect to environmental protection, flood control, land use planning, financial constraints and public interest. The results of the comprehensive watershed scale approach have produced a management plan that clearly defines the common goal for the watershed and yet provides flexibility to all stakeholder municipalities, agencies and groups to develop the detailed implementation strategy and action plan that best suit their own requirements.

Proposed Strategic Options for the Watershed Plan



Develop floodplain management strategy and associated bylaws


Delineate existing riparian, wetland and flood storage areas and establish policy to protect from development, construction impacts, locating of new utilities or facilities, etc.


Develop watercourse protection and sediment and erosion control bylaw


Establish, mark and enforce suitable right-of-way/easements for maintenance


Consider property acquisition of riparian, wetland and flood storage areas where local planning process provides opportunity


Integrate stormwater management and Best Management Practices guide with land use planning tools - policy statements in Official Community Plans and zoning and subdivision bylaws; establish effective impervious area reduction guidelines or bylaw


Develop subwatershed stormwater management plan


Improve fish passage and enhance/revegetate as part of facility repair or upgrades


Consider daylighting where local planning process provides opportunity



Municipal and district staff training


Contractor/developers program


General public program on watershed program


School curriculum program


Local stream restoration activities/festivals (cleanups, planting, invasive species control, etc.)


Signage/kiosks as part of Greenways


Riparian landowner contact program


Recognition/awards program in business and resident categories

Appendix A - Proposed Strategic Options for the Watershed Plan ( continued...)



Sewer rehabilitation program - inflow/infiltration and cross-connection elimination


Flood management strategy


Spill response program - review and clarify


Bank erosion control and revegetation strategy - bank stabilization and enhancement, bioengineering considered before rip rapping, etc.


Fish passage improvements


Greenways and recreational corridors incorporating streams


Baseflow augmentation; infiltration basins


Riffle weirs


Culvert upgrades or bridge replacement


Wetland, wet or dry detention pond, biofiltration pond


Stream complexing and off-channel habitat; reduce channelization


Dredging Burnaby Lake

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