Burrard Inlet Restoration Pilot Program

The Burrard Inlet Restoration Pilot Program (BIRPP) was designed by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to invest the proceeds of creative sentencing resulting from the 2007 oil spill in Burrard Inlet. The program resulted in multiple ecosystem restoration projects being completed along Burrard Inlet, with significant contributions from partners such as:

  • BCIT
  • Bodwell International School
  • City of North Vancouver
  • Hatfield Consultants
  • Kingfisher Rod & Gun Club
  • Living Rivers
  • Metro Vancouver
  • Royal Bank Blue Water Fund
  • Seaspan
  • Seymour Salmonid Society
  • Squamish Nation
  • Steelhead Society of BC

You can read about some of the conservation work funded by the Burrard Inlet Restoration Program here.

Background on the Burrard Inlet Restoration Pilot Program

The Oil Spill

Crude oil from the punctured Westridge Pipeline sprayed about 12 to 15 m into the air for approximately 25 minutes. Fifty homes and properties as well as a section of the Barnet Highway were affected by the occurrence. The crude oil seeped into the surrounding soil, storm drains, and sewer lines. The Barnet Highway was closed for several days. Moving through the storm drain system, the crude oil eventually reached the marine waters of Burrard Inlet where it began to spread further into the inlet through wind and tide action. Burrard Inlet’s marine environment and approximately 1200 m of shoreline were affected by the crude oil spill. A number of shore birds were contaminated after coming into contact with the oil.

It is estimated that $15 million was spent on cleanup and rehabilitation of the immediate area of impact.

Court Proceedings

Following investigation, charges were laid against three parties and each pleaded guilty to introducing waste into the environment causing pollution under the Environment Management Act. Crown counsel and defence for the companies developed a joint sentencing submission for the Court requiring three payments of $149,000 each paid to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. On November 10, 2011 the judge agreed with the submission and ordered payments to be made.

The award was made for work that is separate from and in addition to completed cleanup and rehabilitation work on Burrard Inlet.

Creative Sentencing Defined

The Judiciary in British Columbia has a number of options in sentencing violators of environmental laws. In addition to fines, other traditional penalties, and alternative measures such as out-of-court settlements, many statutes now provide innovative opportunities for creative sentencing.

One option for creative sentencing is the payment of money to a trust fund with conservation goals for certain projects or actions for the public good.

The Role of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation

Dating back to 1993, the Foundation is named as a trust fund and potential recipient of creative sentencing awards in 5 provincial statutes. More information about the management of creative sentencing awards by HCTF is available here.