Letter to Transport Minister Lisa Raitt on Sewage Dumping in English Bay

Media/Press Release
Monday, February 2, 2015

Letter to Transport Minister Lisa Raitt on Sewage Dumping in English Bay

Dear Minister Raitt,

Recent media reports indicate Transport Canada is conducting consultations to allow small pleasure craft, with less than 15 passengers, to dump sewage waste a short one nautical mile from shore, far less than the current regulation of three nautical miles. This proposed change will greatly affect the water safety surrounding Vancouver’s beaches, putting public health at risk.

Just last week the Medical Officer of Health with Vancouver Coastal Health expressed concerns over the proposed changes noting that this will likely increase incidence and length of beach closures. Last year was already one of the worst years for beach closures in recent years, with Sunset Beach closed to swimming for nearly four weeks in August.

It is clear the proposed changes will only exacerbate the current situation, leading to more incidences of increased E. coli bacteria. High E. coli levels can lead to a greater risk of illness or infection, particularly gastrointestinal illness.

The City of Vancouver and surround municipalities have expressed concern regarding the potential new regulations. As the Minister responsible I respectfully urge you to consult with the municipalities affected, listen to the advice of local health experts, and not approve the proposed regulation to change the dumping restriction to one nautical mile from the current regulation of three.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C., M.P.
Vancouver Centre
Federal Liberal Health Critic
Chair, Federal Liberal B.C. Caucus