Sludge Dumping at Burns Bog

Comments 4 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Burns Bog is the largest domed peet bog on the West Coast of North America and is vital to our entire region’s ecosystem. Over the last 40 years, it has been used as a landfill by the City of Vancouver although what they are now proposing is even more vile.

[City of Vancouver] proposes to deposit 85,000 cubic metres, or 8,500 dump-truck loads, of sewage sludge (they call it “biosolids”) from the Iona treatment plant onto the landfill’s 12-hectare Phase One closure site. Vancouver has applied in writing to the Ministry of Environment for an amendment of its landfill operational certificate so the sludge from Iona can be used. It said shortages of regular subsoil approved under the original certificate led to its application to use the sludge. [The Province]

I completely understand that waste needs to go somewhere but this just seems excessive. It’s such a sensitive environmental area, which also happens to be surrounded by agricultural lands.

The sludge will be placed above a protective plastic membrane as part of a top layer of the site’s reclamation where trees, grasses, etc., will be planted. And despite elaborate ditching, there’s a significant risk that leaching from Iona’s sewage will alter the bog’s delicate chemical balance and pollute Delta’s farm irrigation systems. [The Province]

Vancouver will not go ahead with the proposed plan for bio-solid waste just yet as Delta has already shown strong opposition. I’m not an expert in waste management, although I do remember growing up on the hill in Surrey where I could easily overlook two landfills (across the river in New Westminster and then next to the Port Mann Bridge). As I said, the sludge needs to go somewhere (and I suppose it’s going right into the ocean now) but proposing to dump Vancouver’s excremental waste in such a sensitive area just seems a bit ridiculous. Just imagine if Delta were to up and propose they truck their “bio-solids” into the middle of Stanley Park.

4 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. JennyThursday, August 27th, 2009 — 10:00am PDT

    Vancouver should keep their solids to themselves

  2. RobynThursday, August 27th, 2009 — 10:33am PDT

    The whole idea saddens me, honestly. I studied Burns Bog quite in depth back in UBC for a geography class. Back in the 90’s there was even a proposal to pave the entire thing and turn it into an industrial park. Anything for profit, right?

    Recently they zoned an ecologically sensitive part of the park for freeway extension, and somehow it was approved. But that’s what gets the ball rolling – take a little piece here, a little piece here, and before you know it, hey… so much of Burns Bog is being developed anyway, you may as well develop the whole thing, right? The Agricultural Reserve works in a similar way.

  3. Caroline SnyderThursday, August 27th, 2009 — 6:05pm PDT

    If sludge is not put in landfills it WILL be put on the surrounding farmland and even in the middle of Stanley Park! Farm and park disposal is happening right now with 50% of sludge that is generated in the US and Canada. The landfill solution is not ideal, esp. not in sensitive areas– but putting it on agricultural land and parks is much much worse and has killed live stock, sickened people, polluted wells and degraded healthy soil. Until sludge is used as a non-fossil fuel source, the landfill disposal option is still preferable: esp. if the resulting methane is collected for energy. Visit for more information.

  4. JennyFriday, August 28th, 2009 — 8:28am PDT

    I don’t disagree that it has to go somewhere but why should the people of Delta have to endanger a place like burns bog because Vancouver has nowhere to put their sludge? The city of Vancouver can’t expect other communities to deal with their issue because they don’t want it in their own precious backyards.

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