Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Langley City’s strict new watercourse protection bylaw

On Monday afternoon, Langley City Council gave first, second, and third reading to a suite of bylaws to enhance watercourse protection in our community. In the updated bylaw, watercourses include streams, creeks, rivers, and ponds in addition to drains, ditches, and sewers. In Langley City, all water that does not end up in the sanitary sewer system eventually ends up in the Nicomekl River, a sensitive ecosystem and salmon-bearing estuary.

Langley City’s proposed new watercourse protection bylaw makes it easier to monitor water quality. The bylaw also includes monitoring pH and for chemicals.

The bylaw includes specific requirements for construction and development sites.

As the first layer of protection, people engaged in construction or development activity must submit an erosion and sediment control plan. The plan must be submitted to the City and include measures to protect watercourses from construction site discharges. The plan must also show how construction works will limit tree clearing and soil disturbance.

People engaged in construction or development activity must hire a Qualified Environmental Professional to monitor the plan’s implementation, including taking frequent samples in watercourses around a construction site. This professional must report any violations of the plan or the City’s protection bylaw immediately. They must also maintain a logbook of monitoring activities which must be readily available for the City to inspect.

A Qualified Environmental Professional must report violations. If they don’t, they could lose their professional credentials, which would prevent them from working in the future. This is a severe consequence.

The proposed suite of bylaws also includes fines for violations. Beyond fines, the City can issue a Stop Work Order at any construction site where a bylaw violation occurs.

This bylaw covers all people and businesses in Langley City. A person or business must immediately fix a violation of the watercourse protection bylaw. The City will correct the violation if the responsible party is unable or unwilling to remediate the violation themselves. The City will charge the full cost of the remediation to the people responsible.

Langley City’s proposed suite of bylaws and bylaw updates will help protect the Nicomekl River and its tributaries which benefits our natural environment and human health.

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