British Columbia

SFU seeks emergency funding to help Stoney Creek salmon run

Simon Fraser University is asking the provincial government for emergency funding to move a salt shed that's been polluting a salmon-bearing stream on Burnaby Mountain, east of Vancouver.

Simon Fraser University is asking the provincial government for emergency funding to move a salt shed that's been polluting a salmon-bearing stream on Burnaby Mountain, east of Vancouver.

Concerns about the salt were raised by volunteers from the Stoney Creek Environment Committee, whose rehabilitation efforts had helped chum and coho salmon return to the creek every fall to spawn, and cutthroat and steelhead to return in winter and spring

But in recent years, the group noticed salmon returns in the creek were lower than expected, according to spokesman Alan James.

"We expected more of them to return, so we started looking to see whether it was a water-quality issue," James said.

Tests eventually revealed high salt content in the water — something that can hurt salmon fry — which the group linked to a wooden shed where SFU stored its road salt.

SFU's chief facilities officer Lee Gavel said the university now has a responsibility to fix the problem, perhaps by next winter. But moving the shed is expected to cost $1 million, equivalent to the university's entire snow-removal budget for a year.

"The solution would appear to be to move that whole facility for handling salt and sand to a fully enclosed new building which will meet current standards," Gavel said.

The university is also committing to use less salt next winter by mixing it half-and-half with sand, Gavel said.