Conservationists 'implore' Burnaby council to halt project threatening bird habitat

75 trees to be cut to make way for Metro Vancouver water line

A group of Burnaby residents are demanding city council halt an infrastructure project they say will destroy sensitive bird habitat and permanently damage a beloved park.

Metro Vancouver plans to build the Second Narrows Water Supply Tunnel under Burrard Inlet from North Vancouver to Burnaby. The pipe and a new valve will connect with existing underground infrastructure in Second Narrows Park (also known as Montrose Park). 

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Burnaby council approved the plan in December, with councillors Colleen Jordan and Dan Johnston opposed, citing concerns over environmental impacts. A city report says roughly 75 trees will have to be cut down. 

But a trio representing the Second Narrows Park Conservation Association came to a Jan. 28 council meeting to urge the mayor and councillors to halt the project.

“Mayor Hurley and council, it’s never a wrong time to do the right thing,” Ken Georgetti said. “We implore you not to have this scar ... left on our park as part of your legacy.”

water line sign
A new water valve and pipe will connect with existing underground infrastructure in Montrose Park. - Jennifer Gauthier

Cindy Oliver told council the cut-and-cover method of laying the pipe would take away a large portion of the relatively small park’s wooded area. She said the trees provide a sound barrier for area residents against noise from Second Narrows Bridge traffic and nearby train tracks.   

“Surely you can take another look,” she said.

The third delegation member, former B.C. Field Ornithologists president George Clulow, said the plan to clear dozens of trees would negatively impact 43 bird species nesting in the park. He said the Migratory Birds Convention Act could come into force to stop the project. 

Speaking to the NOW after the meeting, Georgetti said local politicians hadn’t spent enough time considering alternate locations for the water valve. 

He said he was worried work on the project would disrupt the daily walks he takes in the park with his wife. The park holds a special place in their lives, he said, and it’s shame to see it threatened. 

“It’s full of wildlife,” he said. “It’s our Stanley Park.”

Georgetti also decried what he called a lack of consultation leading up to decisions made by Metro Vancouver and Burnaby’s council.

But there was plenty of consultation, according to Sav Dhaliwal, a Burnaby councillor and Metro Vancouver board chair. He said Metro Vancouver distributed literature to North Burnaby residents and held information sessions that were sparsely attended. 

Dhaliwal said the project will go ahead, adding it’s “a bit late in the game” to stop and change course.

wide perch bird
A group of conservationists say a plan to cut down trees in Montrose Park (also known as Second Narrows Park) will rob local birds of their habitat. - Jennifer Gauthier

He said Metro Vancouver crews must cut down trees when migratory birds are south for the winter. They’ll have to wait until next winter if they miss the current window, Dhaliwal said.

Approximately 75 trees will have to be cut to make way for the water line, he said, but most will either be replanted or will grow back on their own. 

Dhaliwal said many locations for the underground water valve were considered and the current plan is “most likely the least destructive.” 

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