Is this little critter stumping Canada's "best run" city?
Whoda thunk that turtles would be the one thing to stop Metro Vancouver's most scrappy mayor? If you've not followed this story, you might find it either amusing or rather sad. The City of Burnaby was poised to start dredging Burnaby Lake last week to remove 200,000 cubic metres of sediment, resulting in approximately 24,000 truck trips out of the city for dumping. There have been questions about possible toxicity in the dredged muck, due to the proximity to Highway One. However, they cannot get a permit from BC's Environment Ministry because turtles are hibernating in the muddy recesses of the lake.
Why is the City of Burnaby doing the dredging? Apparently the sediment is interfering with competitive rowing. Corrigan sounds like he hopes someone will call his bluff on this when he says, "The project will either go ahead immediately or it's just gone. If this opportunity is missed, then that will be it."
...the application for a wildlife-salvaging permit was rejected by the province over concerns for the endangered western painted turtle. No one knows where the turtles are hibernating this year, and there are worries the dredging machine will chop them to bits.
The Ministry of the Environment definitely doesn't want to see turtle bits, but sounds like Corrigan could care less about the little amphibians, even suggesting - horrors! - that they're not native to the region.
“They brought them down from the Interior and their moms made them get rid of them and so they’d take them down to Burnaby Lake or Deer Lake.”
Comments by provincial Environment Minister Barry Penner to the Burnaby News Leader suggest there is a hint of politics at play here:
“Mayor Corrigan has either been asleep at the switch or is forgetting some important facts,” Penner said from Victoria. The province issued an environmental assessment certificate in 2002, since renewed in 2007, which specifically set out criteria for protection of the Western painted turtle. “It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.”
The dredging operation has a $14-million budget, and by standing down the City of Burnaby is supposedly wasting about $20,000 daily in equipment rentals and staff costs.
The City of Burnaby's keenness for looking after Burnaby Lake isn't matched by their apparent neglect of nearby Deer Lake. This body of water once welcomed summer swimmers and one of the regions most active urban beachfronts. Today, Deer Lake is being ravaged by an infestation of milfoil weeds and goose feces. The busy park at Deer Lake beach on Sperling avenue today looks like a wasteland.
The City of Burnaby has been slowly buying up all the homes on the north shore of Deer Lake, leaving some homes abandoned or abused by renters. These homes are among the finest heritage properties in the city. Just across the street however, are some of Metro Vancouver's most enormous monster homes.
Deer Lake is now the regular location for outdoor concerts, much to the chagrin of nearby residents who've been asking Burnaby council why they have been flouting their own noise by-law. I've been to Deer Lake and found it to be a respectable venue for a concert on a nice day, but the area is poorly served by transit, making it a car destination with little or no parking.