The Burrard Inlet Restoratin Pilot Program (BIRPP) was designed by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to invest the proceeds of creative sentencing resulting from the 2007 oil spill in Burrard Inlet.
Burrard Inlet is a heavily industrialized area with limited amounts of functional intertidal and estuarine habitats. Land and water ownership patterns and jurisdictional issues are complex. Successful projects for enhancement and restoration of the remaining ecosystems require local approvals and creative partnerships.
Work on BIRPP projects is underway! Read the latest news about restoration work at Seymour River estuary and other Burrard project sites here.
Background on the Burrard Inlet Restoration Pilot Program
The Oil Spill
Crude oil from the punctured Westridge Pipeline sprayed about 12 to 15 m into the air for approximately 25 minutes. Fifty homes and properties as well as a section of the Barnet Highway were affected by the occurrence. The crude oil seeped into the surrounding soil, storm drains, and sewer lines. The Barnet Highway was closed for several days. Moving through the storm drain system, the crude oil eventually reached the marine waters of Burrard Inlet where it began to spread further into the inlet through wind and tide action. Burrard Inlet’s marine environment and approximately 1200 m of shoreline were affected by the crude oil spill. A number of shore birds were contaminated after coming into contact with the oil.
It is estimated that $15 million was spent on cleanup and rehabilitation of the immediate area of impact.
Following investigation, charges were laid against three parties and each pleaded guilty to introducing waste into the environment causing pollution under the Environment Management Act. Crown counsel and defence for the companies developed a joint sentencing submission for the Court requiring three payments of $149,000 each paid to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. On November 10, 2011 the judge agreed with the submission and ordered payments to be made.
The award was made for work that is separate from and in addition to completed cleanup and rehabilitation work on Burrard Inlet.
Creative Sentencing Defined
The Judiciary in British Columbia has a number of options in sentencing violators of environmental laws. In addition to fines, other traditional penalties, and alternative measures such as out-of-court settlements, many statutes now provide innovative opportunities for creative sentencing.
One option for creative sentencing is the payment of money to a trust fund with conservation goals for certain projects or actions for the public good.
The Role of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation
Dating back to 1993, the Foundation is named as a trust fund and potential recipient of creative sentencing awards in 5 provincial statutes. More information about the management of creative sentencing awards by HCTF is available here.
Consistent with the goals and objectives for the Burrard Inlet Environmental Action Program and the goals and objectives of HCTF, projects focus on:
- Restoration or enhancement of estuarine, intertidal, and near shore riparian habitat; and/or
- Innovative trout stream passage/daylighting/ restoration opportunities immediately upstream from the intertidal zone.
Area of Work
Projects are limited to Burrard Inlet with the focus on the area of the Inlet east of the Capilano River to the eastern boundary of Barnet Marine Park.
The Board of the HCTF approved the following four objectives for the Burrard Inlet Restoration Pilot Project:
- Restore and enhance estuarine, intertidal and near shore riparian habitats in and around Burrard Inlet;
- Attract additional investment partners to deliver on HCTF’s objectives. Smaller projects (requesting <$25,000) are required to demonstrate best efforts to achieve a 1:1 funding match, while larger projects (requesting >$25,000) are expected to achieve a 3:1 match. Both cash and “in kind” contributions from project partners can be counted in any match.
- Improve public awareness and understanding of creative sentencing as a tool for conservation. In addition to the regular communications requirements for each individual project, the Foundation, at its cost,has developed and implemented a cooperative communications strategy for the program that not only profiles the conservation benefits of the projects but also highlights the role and value of creative sentencing in restoring habitats in the inlet; and
- Increase public awareness and understanding of HCTF.
- Comply with all federal, provincial, regional and municipal laws, statutes,enactments, legislation, by-laws, rules and regulations; and
- Have obtained all regulatory and land use approvals/permissions including the possible approval of BERC or its member organizations for any works.
Project proposals will be subjected to the Foundation’s regular 3 stage technical review process;
In addition to any other conditions that may be identified in the technical review process, any proponent receiving funding for projects as part of this pilot program will be required to participate in a coordinated communications plan led and funded by HCTF to ensure the benefit of the investment of creative sentencing monies is widely profiled.
We anticipate that this funding opportunity will cover a three-year period or until the award is totally invested in conservation projects.