The Rock Bay Contaminant Reduction Initiative is strengthening the capacity of citizens to monitor, and become aware of how aspects of their daily actions affect their health and the local environment. Instilling a sense of ownership and responsibility with knowledge and awareness to create a cleaner, healthier environment and waterway.

We are implementing a Business Pollution Prevention Program and a Residential Watershed Pledge Program (RPP), which includes initiatives to promote education and public awareness in school.

Residential Watershed Pledge Program

Best Management Practices

Educational Programs

Watershed Model Video Presentation

Click on image to view Quicktime Movie.

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Residential Watershed Pledge Program

A large percentage of the Rock Bay Watershed is residential single-family dwellings. The lifestyles of residents in the area have a large impact on water quality in Rock Bay and the Victoria Harbour. The pledge program provides an opportunity for the residents of the Rock Bay Watershed to actively improve the water quality of the bay and harbour, while changing or adapting some of their daily activities to prevent water pollution.

The pledge program consists of informative pamphlets, which are being delivered to each house in the watershed, or an online form that one can submit. Either way is providing an opportunity for residents to pledge their willingness to participate in the program. Persons wishing to participate can contact the Burnside Gorge Community Centre (388-5251), or sign up online by clicking here.

When community members pledge to participate they are provided with the opportunity to receive a free at home visit to provide tips a suggestions of what residents can do around the home to create a healthier environment and waterway. Residents participating will receive a house plaque or decal, recognising them as a Community Eco-Partner.

Best Management Practices

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are the procedures and guidelines a business can follow to ensure their operations are efficient, comply with legal requirements and prevent pollution. It is necessary to adopt BMPs in order to protect our water bodies – streams, lakes, wetlands, groundwater, aquifers and marine areas– that play an important role in the quality of life we enjoy. These bodies of water provide us with recreation and drinking water in addition to supporting sport and commercial fisheries, tourism and a healthy environment. Unfortunately, these water sources are vulnerable to pollution from a variety of human activities that channel contaminants through a network of storm drains, or directly to groundwater.

One scope of human activity that is of increasing concern lies with the quality of “stormwater” or “urban runoff” from public facilities, commercial and industrial businesses and agricultural lands. As the water flows over the ground and off buildings, it can pick up toxic chemicals, oil and grease, pesticides, metals and other contaminants that contribute to pollution. Due to the fact that a large percentage of the Rock Bay catchment area is covered by impervious surfaces (paved surfaces), urban runoff is the predominant source of pollution in Rock Bay.

In 2003, the Rock Bay Restoration Committee (RBRC) produced and distributed BMP manuals for the auto-related businesses, which comprise more than 36% of all businesses in the watershed. The auto sector was the most logical place to start the BMP program, because of its large representation in the area, as well the large amounts of hazardous materials, such as oil, antifreeze, harsh cleaners, and paints, that they deal with on a daily basis can easily be mishandled. Small businesses in the auto sector often lack the resources necessary to keep up with new technologies and industrial practices in pollution prevention, making BMPs essential in the efforts of reducing pollution.

If new developments are ignored by a business, opportunities may be missed to reduce pollutant loading to air, land and water. In addition, many may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. For instance, improper handling and disposal techniques result in site contamination, which is costly to rememdiate, depreciates the business, and is subject to fines through environmental acts.

The environment is not the only beneficiary of businesses following BMPs. There are also social and economic benefits that will ensure a healthy business. Following the success of Cecelia Creek the RBRC has developed several BMP manuals to meet the requirements of the other business and institutional sectors within the watershed. BMPs in the manual include parking lot maintenance, catch basin and oil-water separator maintenance, employee training, client education and landscaping maintenance and design. Distribution of this manual began in July 2003.

To date:

• Over 205 BMP manuals have been delivered to businesses within the Rock Bay Watershed.

• 102 businesses have received an –site visit and completed the self-assessment.

• 80 businesses have passed the assessment and been accepted as a community eco-partner. Click here to find these businesses.

Look for the Community Eco-Partner Decal in the window of businesses that are taking the initiative to prevent pollution from reaching our harbour!

Click here to see the Best Management Practice Manuals

School Education and Outreach

The Burnside Gorge Community Association (BGCA) is partnering with the students of the local Elementary Schools in the Rock Bay Watershed.

In 2003 we launched an educational program for schools located within the Rock Bay Watershed (catchment area). The objective is to create an opportunity for students and their families to take an informed and active role in sustainable management of urban watersheds. By illustrating the environmental impact of daily life on Rock Bay we hope to instil a sense of ownership and responsibility with knowledge and awareness to take action. Ultimately creating a cleaner and healthier community and waterway.

We begin with introducing the watershed concept and present a slide show of native marine life found around Vancouver Island. Then the students have the opportunity to work on an interactive watershed model that depicts how water transports pollution from our neighbourhood to the local waterway. Click here to see a presentation of a watershed model by students of the Burnside Community School.

In the following weeks the information is reinforce with a felt display to compare and contrast a healthy and unhealthy watershed and a home school survey. Here the students are given the opportunity to brainstorm ways to improve the health of our communities and waterways.

Finally we get action orientated and do some fish stencilling of storm drains found in the neighbourhood. The students take steps to remind residents in the Rock Bay Watershed that pollution running off our streets harms our local waterways. They arm themselves with a paintbrush, and mark many of the storm drains in the neighbourhood with a yellow fish.

The students remind residents that anything poured or spilled into the storm drains end up in our local waterway. The mark of the yellow fish is a sign of better times for urban waterways – and for urban fish! To date students have marked of 86 fish. You and your neighbours can make a difference by taking the Rock Bay Resident’s Pledge.