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APEGBC Environment Award

Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project Wins 2011 Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. (APEGBC) Environment Award

On October 15, 2011, at the APEGBC 2011 Annual Conference and AGM, the City of Burnaby received the 2011 APEGBC Environment Award for the Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project. The award recognizes projects by APEGBC members (of which Burnaby’s Director of Engineering, Lambert Chu, is one) for outstanding contributions toward environmental protection, sustainable development and excellence in engineering and geoscience that involve new and unique applications of advanced technology.

This is the second time the City has received the Environment Award from APEGBC. The first time was in 2000 for the Stoney Creek Integrated Stormwater Management Project, which targeted a creek that has high-value aquatic resources which were facing significant environmental challenges in a developing watershed. The successful and groundbreaking Stoney Creek Project engaged a broad range of stakeholders and resulted in adoption of innovative stormwater management standards and practices for watershed planning and protection over a 50-year timeline.



Mayor Derek Corrigan with some of the tons of debris removed from Burnaby Lake as part of the Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project.

The $21-million Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project, jointly funded, 50-50, by the City and the Province of British Columbia, was initiated in the 1990s by City Council to:

  • Enhance the lake environment for fish and wildlife habitat
  • Improve water quality for better environmental health
  • Improve access to the lake for boating activities
  • Recreate the rowing basin in an environmentally and financially sustainable manner
  • Remove the polluted lake bed sediments

The project removed 215,000 cubic metres – or the equivalent of 70 Olympic-sized swimming pools – of contaminated sediments, in addition to car and truck tires, cables, metal poles, engine blocks, auto parts, thousands of pop cans, plastic bottles and plastic bags, and old newspapers.

Burnaby Lake - Before Rejuvenation
Before Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project

In the past 30 years, Burnaby Lake – which is part of the 300-hectare Burnaby Lake Regional Nature Park – began filling in because of sedimentation, a natural process that was accelerated by development and construction activities. The sedimentation was slowly displacing the open water environment and adversely impacting the environment for aquatic life and waterfowl. Water and sediment samples collected from the lake confirmed significant environmental concerns with respect to poor aquatic quality and the long-term survivability of the lake’s ecosystem. The City had to make a choice either to allow the infilling process to continue until the lake had disappeared and many species of aquatic wildlife had been displaced or, instead, to restore, preserve and enhance the lake and its environment. The City chose the latter.

Burnaby Lake - After Rejuvenation
After Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project

Today, Burnaby Lake is:

  • One of the few remaining lakes of significant ecological value in the Metro Vancouver region
  • Home to more than 400 plant and wildlife species, of which 16 are rare and endangered
  • A recreational and park facility visited by more than 300,000 visitors annually

Because of the Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project, Burnaby Lake will continue to have all these attributes and to provide all the associated benefits.

“I am very proud of this project and its outcomes,” says Mayor Derek Corrigan. “Its successful completion required innovation and perseverance to overcome unique technological and environmental challenges and it is a significant honour to receive this Environmental Award from APEGBC that acknowledges the project’s environmental benefits.

“Many of the procedures and work methodologies created for this project had never been tried before. For example, an  innovative dewatering and treatment process was used to allow direct discharge of the treated waste water effluent back into the lake; a wildlife detection program using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and high-resolution sonar camera technology was pioneered to look for turtles in the lake (though there were none to be found); the lake sediments, after the dewatering process, were reused for the subgrade preparation of a nearby sports field, providing excellent fill and saving tens of thousands of dollars in trucking costs – a major win-win opportunity for our City and for everyone throughout the region who will use these fields.

"Together, these innovations make the Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project a remarkable achievement for the City – one that will allow many diverse wildlife species to again enjoy the new healthier, cleaner environment of Burnaby Lake. Row shells and kayaks are beginning to return and students learning to paddle dragon boats are now seen enjoying the lake.”

Aerial view of Burnaby Lake
Photo credit: Associated Engineering

The City’s vision for Burnaby Lake is to protect and preserve the lake and its surrounding environment as a natural jewel in the region for all to enjoy. Rejuvenating Burnaby Lake is only one part of the City’s vision of creating an environmentally sustainable community. Since the mid-1990s, the City has initiated studies to search for engineering solutions and has implemented projects to reduce urban erosion and sedimentation for the purposes of minimizing sedimentation in Burnaby Lake. To ensure better management of the watershed and to enhance its overall environmental health, the City has adopted an integrated watershed management approach to improve the management of stormwater runoff from impervious areas and construction sites. This will reduce sediment in the storm runoff and, in turn, will reduce urban pollutants in the water. The successful completion of the Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation project takes the City one step closer towards achieving the environmental, social and financial sustainability goal of the City.


    APEGBC Environment AwardMoreAssociation of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists B.C.

"I am very proud of this project and its outcomes. Its successful completion required innovation and perseverance to overcome unique technological and environmental challenges and it is a significant honour to receive this Environmental Award from APEGBC that acknowledges the project’s environmental benefits."

- Mayor Derek Corrigan