Two weeks into a ban on lawn-watering in Metro Vancouver, a handful of cities – including Surrey – have issued fewer than a dozen fines.
Oliver Lum, communications manager for the City of Surrey, said as of Tuesday (Aug. 15), just nine fines had been imposed since Stage 2 watering restrictions kicked in on Aug. 4.
Violating the ban in Surrey can cost up to $300.
“Bylaws’ goal is to seek compliance prior to issuing a ticket,” Lum noted in an email to Black Press Media.
The tactic is similar in the Township of Langley, where officials said staff had interacted with 160 property owners as of Thursday (Aug. 17) regarding the ban, issuing just four fines.
A statement from the township notes staff are “actively investigating complaints and working to proactively educate property owners when lawn watering is observed.”
In Delta, property use and compliance staff issued 20 Stage 2 violation tickets as of Friday (Aug. 18) morning. They’ve given an estimated 150 warnings since Stage 1 took effect on May 1.
The degree of compliance in White Rock is unclear.
Boasting its own water source, the city is not a member of the Greater Vancouver Water District and therefore, not beholden to Metro Vancouver’s water restrictions. However, officials did issue a news release on July 31 advising that White Rock would move to Stage 2 on Aug. 4 in alignment with Metro Vancouver.
Director of corporate administration Tracey Arthur said that while the city supports Metro’s regulations and works to educate and advise the public to follow them, no statistics are kept as far as any warnings or fines issued for violations.
It is up to each GVWD member jurisdiction to enforce the restrictions.
Metro Vancouver officials, meanwhile, say it’s too soon to say if the restrictions are having the desired effect – of conserving drinking water.
They were implemented “due to continued high water demand and forecasted hot, dry weather.”
In a July news release announcing the ban, Metro Vancouver chair George Harvie said water consumption across the region had been about 20 per cent higher than last year, with residents using more water every day compared to 2022.
Since the restrictions were imposed, consumption has dropped “very slightly,” Metro Vancouver officials said Thursday (Aug. 17).
“But that could be mostly due to people being away on summer vacations,” communications specialist Jennifer Saltman noted.
“We need more time to really see a trend and sustained reduction,” Saltman continued. “Recent rains weren’t enough to increase reservoir levels because the water was absorbed by the ground and plants – and conservation is still key.”
This summer is the first year in nearly a decade that Metro Vancouver has advanced to Stage 2 restrictions. The last time was in 2015, due to a low snowpack and dry conditions.
Saltman said demand and reservoir levels are being monitored on a daily basis, and resources are being managed accordingly.
Further east, one B.C. city has issued just a single fine for non-compliance with watering restrictions.
The $100 ticket was handed out in Chilliwack, which implemented Stage 3 watering restrictions in July due to severe drought conditions.
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