Sewage leaks into Capilano River on Metro Vancouver's North Shore

The Capilano River in North Vancouver pictured in October 2019. A sewage leak has been reported near the terminus of the river. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit)
The Capilano River in North Vancouver pictured in October 2019. A sewage leak has been reported near the terminus of the river. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit)

A sewage leak has been reported in the Capilano River which flows in Metro Vancouver's North Shore.

The leak was first publicly reported Friday by the Squamish Nation, whose territories encompass much of the North Shore and Vancouver itself.

On Saturday, the provincial environment ministry told CBC News the District of North Vancouver alerted them to the leak on Monday afternoon around 12:45 p.m. PT.

In a tweet, the nation said the leak had been detected near Fullerton Avenue in West Vancouver, and advised the public to stay clear of water in the area — whether it be fishing, swimming or bathing.


Wilson Williams, an elected councillor and spokesperson for the Squamish Nation, said the spill was concerning.

"[And] not just for our Squamish Nation community, but also the general public, especially our everyday users of not just the river but down the beaches as well."

The ministry subsequently said it was responding to the leak, which was leaving a private property and entering the Capilano River via a storm drain outfall pipe at 2020 Fullerton Avenue.

'Actions to mitigate and stop discharge'

The Ministry said in an email on Sunday Vancouver-based Wynford Property Management represents the property owner where the leak came from.

The property management company attended the site Sunday alongside a provincial environment response officer and representatives from the Squamish Nation and District of North Vancouver.

The ministry says the exact source of discharge has not yet been confirmed.

The ministry said Wynford has "taken actions to mitigate and stop discharge into Capilano River."

The nation is investigating possible ecological damage from the spill and has put signs up warning visitors to the area over the spill.

Nick Allan/CBC
Nick Allan/CBC

"We're worried about ... the spiritual and mental health of the community," said Williams. "We use this area as a sacred space for bathing, ceremony use, but also if we look at simply the fishing — we're closely connected with our fish hatchery up at Cleveland Dam, they recently released a lot of salmon fry into the river and it's huge concern."

The ministry says it's unclear how much sewage has been leaking into the water, and a plumbing consultant could not determine the exact source of the sewage.

Metro Vancouver, which manages the region's water supply, deferred to the Environment Ministry when approached for an interview, as did the District of North Vancouver.

The ministry's update on the spill said water samples from around the outfall pipe were delivered to a local lab for analysis, with samples from the nearby Squamish Nation reserve to be analyzed Monday.


The Capilano River flows through the Coast Mountains in Metro Vancouver, and at a high point feeds the Capilano Reservoir at the Cleveland Dam, one of three reservoirs that provide drinking water to the Metro Vancouver region.

Fullerton Avenue is near the terminus of the river, where it empties into the Burrard Inlet near Stanley Park.

The river also contains a large salmon hatchery, run by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. A representative of the hatchery said in an email that the leak had been reported to the department's fish and fish habitat protection program.