City of North Vancouver is investigating a spill that happened past Friday in the fish-bearing Mackay Creek. The city didn’t comment on the spill or its source, saying it was still under investigation.
“At this point an investigation into the source of the contamination is ongoing,” said Stephanie Smiley, the communications officer for the city.
Smiley said the city was notified about a spill in Mackay Creek on Friday. “Fortunately, a contractor working on a city project nearby noticed the contamination right away and immediately installed a boom to contain the spill,” she said.
Two local residents witnessed the spill. Paul Berlinguette and Rob Alexander are members of the North Shore Wetland Partners Monthly Bird and Critter count. They were part of a group doing bird count in the area.
“It was a horrible, horrible spill. It was extensive; it was all over the creek,” said Alexander, a well-known bird expert.
Alexander said the group first noticed the spill when they were about to cross the 1st street and looked over the bridge on the creek. They stopped when they saw a bright sheen of oil spread all over the creek.
The group then walked around to Roosevelt Street and noticed a pipe entering the creek. He said it was possible the spill came from the pipe. “This was a massive spill. We could see the oil. The waterfowl were grooming frantically, a sign that their feathers were contaminated. We also saw Canada Goose in the water just trying to clean itself,” he said.
Alexander said he heard rumours that spill happened because an automotive shop was vandalised and an oil was punctured. “We just heard that from someone, but that spill was more than just a barrel of oil.”
Berlinguette said he was disappointed but not surprised. “We have seen enough of this over the years. It is not uncommon thing living in a car-centric society with storm drains going into local creek and the ocean,” he said.
It is the second time this year that a spill has polluted Mackay Creek. In February this year, an oil spill in the creek was termed “fairly significant” by Richard Boase, manager of environmental sustainability with the District of North Vancouver. A “fair bit” of oil was released onto a road surface and ended up going down a grate, he told CBC in February.
“We take this extremely seriously. We are trying to get to the bottom of the details around the spill,” he said.
In an interview with local media, Boase also said he suspected the source was a waste oil tank in an oil-change shop located in the area of Lloyd Avenue.
Another spill polluted the creek in November 2018. In February last year, North Shore Streamkeeper Ron den Dass discovered dead trout in the creek. In a local media interview, he said something from the storm drains might have killed the fish.