British Columbia

Vancouver handing out $250 fines to worst water offenders

The City of Vancouver is wrestling with new ways to conserve water and enforce restrictions, with the move to Stage 3 water restrictions for the first time in 12 years.

Drought shaming and dry grass abounds throughout the heat-stricken lower mainland

Under Stage 3 water restrictions, all lawn sprinkling is banned.

The City of Vancouver is cracking down on water use with the move to Stage 3 water restrictions, and it's hitting water hogs with expensive reminders.

The latest restrictions — the toughest in 12 years — put in place on Monday, are posted online, and 14 bylaw officers are patrolling the streets on the lookout for for water wasters. They're armed with written warnings, or worse — $250 tickets.

1400 warnings and 30 tickets have already been handed out, according to city staff.

For its part, the city stopped watering cemeteries and parks on July 7, and now it has limited spray park operation, and shut down ornamental fountains that don't re-circulate water. City staff are even spot cleaning vehicles, to avoid car washing.

"We are approaching, right now, quite a serious situation," said Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouver's acting general manager of engineering services.

Vancouver spray parks are subject to tighter new restrictions. (CBC News)

Officials are hoping to avoid the dreaded and highest level: Stage 4 restrictions, last seen in 1997, after a water main failure.

The water shortage is tough on the power washing business, according to Home Smart Home Services' Ian Ritchie.

 "In the past three weeks our calls have dropped off for power washing about 90 per cent," he said.

Commercial companies can still power wash without restriction, if it's not for aesthetic reasons, but Ritchie said people are just not calling. He's washing windows and cleaning gutters, but losing out on the summer's big money maker, the power wash.

"The perception is that you can't do any power washing at all. I think people are just a little nervous and rightfully so because the reservoir levels are so low," said Ritchie.

Stage 3 watering rules 

  • no sprinklers, and no exceptions even for new lawns
  • hand watering only for flowers and vegetables
  • no car or boat washing
  • no filling pools or hot tubs
  • golf fairways are not being watered
  • very limited watering of sports fields


With files from Kiran Dhillon