the world is our oyster – just don’t eat them right now

Comments 2 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Summer is here and we’re among the thousands of people hitting the gorgeous beaches of Vancouver. We haven’t had any “closures” due to pollution on our beaches in a while – English Bay, Second Beach, Third Beach, Kitsilano etc. – they’re all pretty ‘okay’ for a swim but what about those corners of the ocean that are tucked away within our city?

This morning we were listening to the Fox and Captain Scotty was down near False Creek doing one of those ‘do something stupid or dangerous and win concert tickets from a radio station’ things. The ‘event’ was to FISH near Science World for Foo Fighter tickets AND THEN eat what you catch. They mentioned that people had been warned around the time of the Dragon Boat races not to have their skin in contact with the water, if they did – wash immediately. This is because of the pollution in the area. This made me think about the upcoming Red Bull Flug Tag event in August where people will basically be riding their contraptions into the water.

I thought I would find out a little more about that body of water just to see HOW dangerous it is.

“One of the contributors to pollution in False Creek-along with sewage overflows, decades-old industrial pollution in the sediment, droppings from geese and other birds, and incursions of water from the Fraser River when it’s cresting-is boats dumping the contents of their toilets into the creek, since holding tanks aren’t required.” (article)

Before Yaletown was all shiney and new, when they were developing the south-side waterfront areas of Downtown Vancouver – it was an old industrial waste land. How many people remember hearing about the Expo Itch? (Although I haven’t been able to Google it I swear it’s in a book we own somewhere). Due to years of ground soil contamination (that was in the process of being clean up) some people experienced itchy red legs walking around the Expo grounds. (expo history)

Since 1990 there have been perceived improvements to False Creek water quality due to a number of initiatives undertaken by the City of Vancouver to reduce or eliminate direct discharges. (False Creek Water Monitoring – SEFC)

If you’re truly interested and concerned (about such things as PCBs in the water) you can check out the Water Quality Objectives Attainment for the Burrard Inlet (Ministry of the Environment site) or other sites concerning water quality (link).

If you’re thinking of swimming in the water in False Creek *shudder* , just head on over to the beaches on the other side of the inlet instead (Vancouver Beaches) and since it may not just be the salt water making your skin feel a lil off always make sure you SHOWER after being in the water.

(flickr photo (top): Ian and Kate)
(flickr photo (bottom): kanadisch)

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2 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. JamesMonday, July 10th, 2006 — 9:24am PDT

    Last summer I swam almost every Thursday and Monday from Kits Beach with the Vancouver Open Water Swim Association ( and didn’t have any troubles or concerns with the water quality. I’ve only swam a couple of times this summer, both at Kits Beach and Spanish Banks, but still haven’t had any concerns.

    On the other hand, a friend’s girlfriend works for an environmental assessment company who does water sampling for the city of Vancouver, and she says she doesn’t swim in the water.

  2. Miss604Monday, July 10th, 2006 — 10:14am PDT

    The last time I swam in the ocean was at Jericho Beach last summer. I’m really not a huge seaweed fan so I try to avoid it. It’s not bad, really – just kinda icky feeling from the salt water. I used to swim all the time up on the Sunshine Coast. I just get a little apprehensive about the beaches/waterfront closer to downtown…

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