Debate on where fish kill originated

Was it in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows?

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are at odds about where hundreds of little fish found expired in the North Alouette River almost two years ago actually died.

While environmentalist Jack Emberly found the fish a few hundred metres east of Neaves Bridge, the fish kill supposedly happened in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows council heard last week.

“There’s been a bit a misunderstanding as to where this took place,” said Pitt Meadows Mayor Don MacLean.

“A lot of people, individual residents of Maple Ridge, feel that it was in Pitt Meadows and I don’t believe it was,” MacLean said at the Feb. 1 council meeting.

“The fish kill was actually within Maple Ridge’s jurisdiction on the North Alouette,” said Kim Grout, director of development services.

She said later that Pitt Meadows initially learned of the incident from Maple Ridge.

“We know Maple Ridge was working on it with their council and there was some discussion on it and it was described to us as upstream.”

Grout said the City of Pitt Meadows was only concerned with the unauthorized installation of the water intake pump by Golden Eagle Group, also in the North Alouette. The company says there’s no connection between the pump’s installation and the fish kill.

An Environment Canada report from July 2009 found no cause for the death of the fish.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin disagrees about the location of the fish kill.

“I’m 99.8 per cent sure that it happened in Pitt Meadows.”

Emberly confirmed last week that he found the fish downstream of the irrigation intake, within Pitt Meadows boundaries.

Geoff Clayton, with the Alouette River Management System, said Grout should recheck the city’s boundaries. “That just doesn’t happen to be true.”

Amanda Balcke, executive-director of ARMS, also saw a dozen dead fingerlings on May 25, 2009 near where Golden Eagle Group excavated before installing the 45-centimetre wide water intake pipe for its cranberry fields.

The company has admitted it installed the pipe in early June and pumped 100,000 litres from the river without a receiving a water licence from the Water Stewardship Division of the Ministry of Environment.

That’s still under investigation by the Attorney General department.