Questions or concerns about the Five Creeks Flood Protection project?
May 9, 2019
The District has received calls and emails from concerned residents looking for more information or clarification of existing information on the Five Creeks Stormwater Flood Protection Project. We'd like to address those questions here.
What is this project about?
This project is a "stormwater diversion". It is a large-diameter pipe with creek intake structures which will collect excess flow from creeks during significant storm events. Like other stormwater systems, it will be installed underground and will run from above the Upper Levels Highway down to Burrard Inlet at the foot of 31st Street.
The pipe is designed to convey excess flow from creeks during significant rainfall events (e.g. events that only take place every two or more years) with the intake structures designed to split the excess flow so that some of the flow will remain in the creeks and some of the excess flow will be diverted into the storm diversion system.
Once constructed, the system will serve five creek watersheds: Pipe, Westmount, Cave, Turner and Godman. Water that would normally “jump the banks” and trigger overland flooding will instead be diverted into the new pipe.
Why is it being done?
One of Council's priorities is to plan for climate change and future weather events. Stormwater events are already increasing in frequency and intensity and this is projected to continue. Much of the current stormwater infrastructure, including culverts and creek channels, do not have the capacity to convey the increasingly significant flows.
Stormwater events are rainfall events that generate major flows and the impact of these flows is increased by our mountainous terrain. When water overflows the creeks, erosion and environmental impact can occur, and there is a risk of property damage due to flooding.
The new larger pipe with creek intake points will reduce the risk of flooding and property damage to 800 homes in Rodgers Creek, Westmount and Altamont neighbourhoods, while improving the health and condition of the creeks themselves.
Why hasn't the community been consulted?
The District has an obligation to construct and maintain this required infrastructure. It is not an option and it does not require public input.
The storm diversion pipe solution is based on the analysis and recommendations in the relevant Integrated Stormwater Management Plan (ISMP). This ISMP, along with others developed for District watersheds, was in response to provincial and regional requirements. We have an obligation to complete ISMPs in watersheds of this size with developed lands.
How is it being paid for?
The project is a significant piece of new infrastructure.
A Council priority is to identify sources of funds other than property taxes for municipal services and major projects.
The District has entered into an agreement with British Pacific Properties (BPP) to co-fund the project. The District will pay a fixed amount, up to a maximum of $6.25 million and BPP will assume the remaining project costs, including overseeing the project and assuming any unforeseen costs.
When complete, the District will assume ownership of the infrastructure, having avoided any financial risk to the taxpayer.
For the District’s portion of costs, $4 million comes from Development Cost Charges related to growth, and the remainder from the capital reserve, which is funded by utility fees, not general taxation.
Are there environmental impacts?
Some members of our community are concerned about environmental impacts because the word "diversion" has been interpreted to mean that this project will either dam the creeks, take water away from the creeks or will destroy the health and ecology of the watershed. This is not true.
In fact, this project will protect the creeks from erosion and damage from storm events. In turn, the health and ecology of creeks will be protected, allowing a stable wetland habitat to remain in place. The project has the support of the West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society because of its environmental benefits.
Does the District have permission from the provincial and federal governments to do this work?
There are two other levels of government that have environmental oversight for this project.
The federal government, through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, regulates work on the foreshore. A stormwater outfall will be constructed at the foot of 31st Street and some blasting may be required. This work on the foreshore has already been federally-approved and the permits are in place.
The province's jurisdiction is for instream works. The construction of the intakes north of the highway requires permits. Usually, these permits are for water licenses (to divert flows) and construction works instream to construct the intakes.
Typically, diversion of water from creeks or bodies of water is related to profit and at an environmental or social cost (e.g. major hydro dam projects). However, this project’s water diversion is to protect properties and creek habitats.
Staff have spoken to the province as recently as last week and it was indicated the permit approvals are being prepared.
Construction impacts and traffic
As with all construction projects, the true impact will be the period of disruption during construction. The District acknowledges that neighbourhood residents will experience construction disruption. That is why we are phasing construction in segments.
As construction proceeds, residents will experience disruption for a couple of weeks, then construction will move on to another segment. We are working to limit the amount of time that construction directly impacts each resident.
Blasting may be required in some areas during construction due to topography. A pre-blasting survey will be done for any resident within 50 metres of a proposed blasting site. Any required blasting—in any section of the project—will be carefully considered and kept to a minimum.
For information and updates on traffic impacts, or to subscribe to email updates about this project, visit westvancouver.ca/fivecreeks.
Westbay Elementary School
The District is working directly with Westbay Elementary School to develop safe alternative drop-off and pick-up points for parents and students when construction takes place around the school. Work requiring closures in front of Thompson Place is expected to take place later in the fall, so we will work with the school to hold an information meeting for parents at the beginning of the school year in September.
Find out more
For information and updates on traffic impacts or to subscribe to email updates about this project, visit westvancouver.ca/fivecreeks.