08/08/2013 10:12 EDT | Updated 10/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Metro Vancouver Allegedly Dumped Sewage Into Burrard Inlet

Lawyers for the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District made their first appearance in provincial court yesterday, after the federal government formally charged Metro Vancouver with releasing raw sewage into Burrard Inlet.

Environment Canada filed the charges under the Fisheries Act last month for an incident that allegedly occurred in July 2011, when raw sewage from a combined overflow pipe near Brockton Point poured into waters around Stanley Park.

Under heavy rain conditions, combined sewer pipes can get backed up and raw sewage ends up bypassing filtration plants and flowing into natural water sources.

Environmental groups hope the charges will alert the public to what they say is an ongoing problem.

“My hope is something like this lets the community know that this is still happening,” says Christianne Wilhelmson, spokesperson for the Georgia Strait Alliance.

The Georgia Strait Alliance has unsuccessfully pursued similar charges against Metro Vancouver in the past.

Darrell Mussatto, Mayor of North Vancouver and chair of Metro Vancouver’s Utilities Committee, says the district is taking the charges very seriously but wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the allegation.

The case is scheduled for arraignment in October.

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