With major upgrades needed to protect salmon in Maple Creek and reduce the risk of flooding along Burns Road, Port Coquitlam council applied to the federal government for a grant totaling $1,996,000 during Tuesday’s meeting.

“I think it’s certainly fair to expect that we would receive support from senior levels of government,” Mayor Brad West said, emphasizing the issues of safety and climate action.

While the upgrades to Maple Creek are welcome, they are also “long past due,” said Maple Creek streamkeepers president Sandy Budd.

Maple Creek

After more than 30 years of service, the Maple Creek drainage pump station has: “significant issues related to capacity, condition, safety, and fish passage,” according to a city staff report.

Discussing the pump earlier this year, Budd explained she’d been lobbying for a fish-friendly pump for years.

The pump doesn’t permit fish passage while the pumps are operating, according to a staff report. However, Budd said she’s seen fish get picked up by the pumps and blown into a fence.

“Their need to go back to the stream where they were spawned is so strong that they will jump through this pipe,” Budd said.

While some pumps in the city are conducive to fish passage, some are “yet to be converted,” explained the city’s manager of infrastructure and planning Melony Burton.

The improvements to the pump station should have taken place a decade earlier, according to Budd.

“We are fighting against time,” she said, noting recent disappointing salmon returns as well as the ravages of climate change.

A new pump station with fish-friendly pumps was one of several recommendations made to council in 2012. Last April, council voted unanimously to approve an $11.5 million project aimed at installing a higher capacity pump station, managing rainwater with greener infrastructure and removing “high priority fish obstructions” while upgrading the culvert.

Currently, capacity of the pumps is less than the creek flow and approximately one-third the rate of a 100-year storm, according to the staff report.

Following design and environmental permitting, construction of the new pump station is slated for 2023.

The city is asking for a $1,258,000 federal grant.

Burns Road

Following a partial collapse in 2019, workers made temporary repairs to stretch the Burns Road Culvert’s lifespan until its scheduled replacement in 2022.

The culvert has failed in some sections and suffered “significant deterioration,” according to a city staff report.

If the 16.8-metre culvert fails, Burns Road would likely have to be closed. A failure would also pose harm to nearby “aquatic life or habitat,” according to city staff.

An upgrade is slated to expand the culvert, protect against erosion and flooding caused by storms and sea level rise. The city is asking for a $738,000 grant.