Environment

Sustainable living is everyone's responsibility

Our community and economy depend on a healthy ecosystem–where plants, animals and waterways thrive because we focus on clean and sustainable land use practices that keep our environment strong.

Discover what the City is doing to manage these important issues in our community:

  • Invasive species - plants, animals and insects
  • Urban agriculture
  • Pesticides
  • Watersheds and waterways

Invasive species

Burnaby counts about 3,000 species that are native to our region. But did you know there are ‘aliens’ in their midst? That’s the term for species not native to the area. While most are harmless, there are others we call ‘invasive alien species’ that hurt our local ecosystem by:

  • Taking over food sources and habitat
  • Damaging the environment
  • Introducing plant diseases
  • Creating ‘hybrids’

Their impact on the environment and the economy is serious and often irreversible. Controlling invasive alien species is expensive–and some are impossible to stamp out.

That leaves us with our best and only option–working together to stop the spread of these invasive alien species in our region. Here are the most common plants, animals and insects we need to eliminate.

Invasive plants

Burnaby is committed to supporting and protecting natural environments by removing foreign plants and animals that harm our native species.

Giant hogweed is a large, hardy plant that grows fast in a variety of environments. It's harmful to people, producing a clear, poisonous sap that can burn, blister or scar skin when the skin that's come into contact with the sap is exposed to sunlight. The giant hogweed features a green stalk with purple spots that can grow up to 5 metres (16 feet) high, producing 'umbrellas' of white flowers that turn to seed and blow far and wide to sprout more hogweed. We're actively removing Giant Hogweed from public lands, and we ask all private landowners to remove giant hogweed plants from their properties as well.

Some helpful links:

Japanese knotweed is extremely difficult to eradicate. It was first introduced in BC as a landscaping groundcover because it grows quickly and it's quite attractive. It's quite prevalent near waterways, rivers and wetlands. Now it's on most Canadian provinces' noxious weed list because it's so destructive. It chokes off access to water for animals and other plants, causes erosion and ruins recreation waters meant for swimming and paddling. It's so aggressive and fast-growing its destructive root system can grow through concrete and asphalt.

We encourage you as a property owner to take steps to remove knotweed from your property. Eliminating knotweed takes time and you'll benefit by hiring a licenced pesticide professional to apply herbicides to knotweed infestations and to safely. Live knotweed should not be cut but can be roped off safely for treatment. Dead knotweed canes can be safely disposed of in your City yard waste.

The Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver (ISCMV) has produced an informative ISCMV Tackling Knotweed brochure to tackle all 4 varieties of knotweed, including Japanese knotweed. This brochure takes you through the best options and timelines to safely remove this destructive plant.

Visit the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver for more information about these invasive plants in our region:

Invasive animals

Invasive animals are typically larger and more aggressive than their local relatives and they have fewer enemies to keep their population in check. Common invasive animals and amphibians in Burnaby include:

Many of these species were initially brought to Canada as pets or for food production, or they 'hitchhiked' here on plants, packaging or transport.

You can help by not releasing animals or pets to any waterway or green space in the City of Burnaby. Please take any unwanted pets back to where you purchased them–or find them a new home. It's illegal to release any live fish or aquatic invertebrates to BC waterways without a permit.

Invasive insects

Chafer beetles are a nuisance to homeowners. They infest lawns which cause crows, skunks, and raccoons to dig for larvae, ultimately damaging the turf of your lawn.

Learn more

For more information, or to report a European chafer beetle problem, contact:

Climate Action and Energy
Phone: 604-294-7850
Email: [email protected]

 

We work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to help control the spread of Japanese beetles. The larvae feed on the roots of turf grass and other plants. Adults attack the flowers, foliage and fruit of more than 250 plant species, including roses, blueberries and grapevines.

Since European fire ants were first found in BC in 2010, their presence has been confirmed in locations across the lower mainland, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island

Learn more

What we’re doing to eliminate/manage invasive species

Over a decade ago, we mapped the Still Creek Watershed and surveyed parks and greenspaces city-wide to determine the extent of invasive plants in Burnaby. These studies helped us develop long term strategies:

Preventing the spread of invasive plants in Burnaby greenspaces:

In our survey, we found that 19% of Burnaby’s greenspaces were infested with the top13 invasive species identified by the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver.

Since that time we continue to take these steps:

  • Ground removal to get out the roots in target areas.
  • Trials and testing to rid invasive species in park areas.
  • Staff training to identify common invasive plant species.
  • Enhanced parks maintenance practices to prevent the spread of invasive plants.
  • Removing decorative (but invasive) plants from City horticulture.
  • Ongoing public education and workshops on how to control common invasive plants and non-invasive garden alternatives.
  • Providing support to community groups that are working on invasive plant issues.

Chafer Beetles and Nematodes Program

Burnaby's Nematode Program has subsidized the cost of nematodes that eat chafer beetle larva during the month of May–it's reviewed annually.

Urban agriculture

Burnaby has some of the most productive farm land in the region–we've been farming it for 160 years. At last count, over 40 farms are operating in Burnaby. We also encourage 'farming' closer to home with programs like our community gardens–where residents learn to grow vegetables–all in an effort to make our community as sustainable as possible.

This helpful beekeeping brochure outlines the regulations for beekeeping in 7 Burnaby neighbourhoods zoned for this rewarding activity, along with links to helpful resources.

We also have bee condos in our City parks for blue orchard mason bees. Unlike honey bees, they don't form colonies or produce honey–but these native bees are important because they move pollen from plant to plant, helping gardens thrive.

The long-term protection of Burnaby’s agricultural lands is an important part of Burnaby's Official Community Plan. It supports protecting and expanding agriculture, particularly in the Big Bend area of south Burnaby.

Community gardens

We encourage residents to be active gardeners and to grow food in our community gardens or try their hand at container gardening.

Burnaby Big Bend Tour

Take the whole family along on this self-guided tour of some of the agriculture sights of Burnaby’s Big Bend along Marine Drive in south Burnaby.

For more information, contact the Planning department:

Phone: 604-294-7400   
Email: [email protected]

Pesticides

Like all communities, our goal is to eliminate pesticide use whenever possible due to potential health and environmental impacts. Learn what we're doing to do to become pesticide-free.

Here are some of the initiatives we began as early as the late 1980s:

We want to educate and encourage landowners to reduce their use of herbicides on private property. Here are some helpful resources if you want to learn about pesticide reduction:

Have questions?

Climate Action and Energy

Watersheds and waterways

Our water systems are vital to keeping our natural areas healthy to support plant and wildlife in the settings we love to visit.

Our city is bounded by water to the north and south, with many waterways winding across the area in between. Keeping our waterways clean and unpolluted is how we protect our natural heritage and environmental health. We work with many government agencies and community partners to protect and improve our waterways.

Waterways of Burnaby 

Visit waterways and get away from it all–observe nature, watch birds, fish, canoe or walk along a stream.

It is all of our responsibility to protect the city's valuable waterways and the natural environment. If you're a landowner or business living or operating near streams and ravines, you can take the following steps to protect your watershed and the wildlife within it:

  • Identify how close you live or work to waterways
  • Identify storm drain locations on your property, street and laneway 
  • Dispose of household consumer products, toxic and hazardous wastes appropriately 
  • Dispose of all yard waste in your compost or yard waste container
  • Don't feed wildlife or leave food sources near them 
  • Choose native vegetation to support local wildlife 

Report any suspicious dumping of potential pollutants to Burnaby's Climate Action and Energy Department at 604-294-7850 or Burnaby Dispatch at 604-294-7200.

Keep pollutants out

All storm sewers discharge into fish-bearing waters. Thus it's important to keep the following pollutants out of stormwater drains and catch basins outside buildings, in underground parking areas and on streets: 

  • Floor-washing/ carpet cleaning detergents (including biodegradable products) 
  • Oil, anti-freeze, and gasoline 
  • Residential or commercial car-washing soaps and products 
  • Chlorinated swimming pool/hot tub water 
  • Paint, varnishes and stripper products or residues 
  • Concrete and grout product and wash water 
  • Pesticides and other household poisons 

Find how to dispose of toxic or hazardous materials safely.

Helpful resources

For bylaws and regulations, visit our working around waterways page.

Our city staff work closely with streamkeeper groups who act as stewards for our natural heritage–caring for Burnaby’s waterways through litter and stream clean-up campaigns, habitat improvement projects, release of salmon fry, storm drain marking and the collection of environmental data.

Related links

Was this page useful?