B.C.: Number of Tickets Issued for Water Ban Has Increased Ten Fold in Metro-Vancouver

Update:

Vancouver has enjoyed a long and excessive relationship with its water. The city’s water use laws were written in 1909 — new regulations are expected to take effect next year — and what the law said in 1909 was: dig a well wherever you want, and use as much water as you want. It is an attitude that largely persists to this day, despite the present brown lawn revolution. Residents pay a flat fee for their water, and the city lacks smart water metres for residential homes, meaning it is impossible for water managers to track how much water each individual household consumes annually.
Vancouver has enjoyed a long and excessive relationship with its water. The city’s water use laws were written in 1909 — new regulations are expected to take effect next year — and what the law said in 1909 was: dig a well wherever you want, and use as much water as you want. It is an attitude that largely persists to this day, despite the present brown lawn revolution. Residents pay a flat fee for their water, and the city lacks smart water metres for residential homes, meaning it is impossible for water managers to track how much water each individual household consumes annually.

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METRO VANCOUVER — The number of warnings and tickets for illegal use of water soared in many Metro Vancouver municipalities this year after drought led to tougher-than-usual watering restrictions, including a ban for most of the summer on lawn sprinkling.

Vancouver has issued nearly 6,000 warnings and handed out 415 tickets that carry a fine of $250. In comparison, last year there were 767 warnings and 43 tickets in Vancouver.

Richmond handed out more tickets than warnings during Stage 3 restrictions. In all, 407 people received a fine of $500.

The average Canadian uses about 240 litres of water per day. The average in Vancouver is 350 litres per person per day, and about 40% of that perfectly treated, perfectly pristine drinking water, gets spent soaking peoples’ lawns and gardens.
The average Canadian uses about 240 litres of water per day. The average in Vancouver is 350 litres per person per day, and about 40% of that perfectly treated, perfectly pristine drinking water, gets spent soaking peoples’ lawns and gardens. Gerry Kahrmann/Postmedia News/Files

West Vancouver, by contrast, issued no tickets but gave out 463 oral and written warnings so far this year.

Metro Vancouver chair Greg Moore said Metro Vancouver will be reviewing what went right and wrong during the water restrictions this summer, and will look at how different municipalities enforced its bylaws when people watered their lawns when they were not allowed.

The City of Vancouver is looking at Conserving Water through Measures such as a Toilet Exchange Program.
The City of Vancouver is looking at Conserving Water through Measures such as a Toilet Exchange Program. Anyone caught watering their lawn illegally or washing non-permeable surfaces, like driveways, will be fined $250.

He said he believes the review will likely result in a recommendation that municipalities take a more unified approach to enforcement and be consistent in what fines are levied to offenders. But, Moore, added, Metro Vancouver can’t force municipalities to do that. Several municipalities had a sliding scale of fines depending on the level of watering restriction.

Richmond fined people $200 for violating Stage 2 restrictions and $500 for Stage 3 restrictions.

If you water your lawn outside of designated times and don't have a permit, you could be fined $250. The City actively patrols for violations. There is no shortage of neighbours who want to pick up the phone and anonymously report those watering their lawns to the Vancouver water police.
If you water your lawn outside of designated times and don’t have a permit, you could be fined $250. The City actively patrols for violations. There is no shortage of neighbours who want to pick up the phone and anonymously report those watering their lawns to the Vancouver water police by calling 311 or emailing a report to http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/report-a-lawn-watering-violation.aspx

In Port Coquitlam, the seven people given tickets were repeat offenders: Two received a fine for $150 during Stage 2 and the other five were fined $300 during Stage 3.

•In Port Moody there were 24 warnings given during Stage 3, from July 20 to September 9, and 70 tickets each carrying a fine of $200.

•In Burnaby there were 1,250 warning letters sent out and 12 tickets issued so far in 2015. Fines in Burnaby are $150 for a Stage 1 water restriction infraction, $250 for Stage 2 and $350 for Stage 3.

vancouver grass is greener

•In Delta 146 tickets were issued so far in 2015. Tickets ranged from $150 for Stage 1, $250 for Stage 2 and $350 for Stage 3. The number of warnings was not tracked.

In Port Coquitlam, where Moore is the mayor, he said summer students were hired as water ambassadors to educate the public on how they could reduce their water consumption.

Recent rain has eased the pressure on Metro Vancouver’s reservoirs, allowing the regional district to ease watering restrictions to Stage 1.

Current water restrictions: Stage 1

ActivityRestrictions
Residential lawn sprinkling
  • Even-numbered addresses on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings 4:00am to 9:00am
  • Odd-numbered addresses on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday mornings, 4:00am to 9:00am
Non-Residential lawn sprinkling
  • Even-numbered addresses Monday and  Wednesday mornings 1:00am to 6:00am
  • Odd-numbered addresses Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 1:00am to 6:00am
  • All non-residential addresses Friday morning 4:00am to 9:00am
New (unestablished) residential and commercial lawns, trees, shrubs, and flowersSprinkling outside restricted times allowed only at the discretion of each municipality and with special permits to be displayed on lawn.
Flowers and vegetable gardens, decorative planters, shrubs and treesNo restrictions
Commercial flowers and vegetable gardensNo restrictions
Private pools, spas, and garden pondsNo restrictions
Public water play parks, and poolsNo restrictions
Public and commercial fountains and water featuresNo restrictions
Private and commercial outdoor impermeable surface washing (such as, driveways, sidewalks, and parkades)No restrictions
Private and commercial pressure washingNo restrictions
Outdoor car washing and boat washingOnly with hose equipped with spring-loaded shut off.
Commercial car washesNo restrictions
Golf coursesMunicipalities request golf course operators cut water use on fairways by as much as possible.
Commercial turf farmsNo restrictions
Synthetic turf and outdoor tracks (such as, bicycle and motorcycle tracks, running tracks)Hosing for health and safety only.
School yards, sports and sand-based playing fieldsNo restrictions
Cemetery lawns
  • Even-numbered addresses Monday and Wednesday mornings 1:00am to 6:00am
  • Odd-numbered addresses Tuesday and Thursday mornings 1:00am to 6:00am
  • All non-residential addresses Friday morning 4:00am to 9:00am
Municipal parksNo restrictions
Municipal ornamental lawns and grassed boulevards
  • Even-numbered addresses Monday and Wednesday mornings 1:00am to 6:00am
  • Odd-numbered addresses Tuesday and Thursday mornings 1:00am to 6:00am
  • All non-residential addresses Friday morning 4:00am to 9:00am.
Municipal hydrant flushingOnly for unscheduled safety or public health reasons. Routine flushing to be scheduled after restrictions are lifted.
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