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.
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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
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.
• Over 205 BMP manuals have been delivered to businesses
within the Rock Bay Watershed.
• 102 businesses have received an –site visit and completed
• 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
The Burnside Gorge Community Association (BGCA) is partnering
with the students of the local Elementary Schools in the Rock Bay
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
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