Residents fed up with stinking creek in Abbotsford

The creek in the McMillan area regularly turns white and has a foul odour

A creek near McMillan Park frequently turns a milky white colour and omits foul odours

A pair of McMillan residents are urging action to clean up a small stream that regularly turns white and produces a foul odour.

Karen Copeland said there have long been issues with the colouration and stench of the stream, but they have slowly grown worse, with a smell “like an outhouse,” for much of this summer.

“My sister was here at the beginning of August, and there were times where we couldn’t stand to be outside on my back deck because the smell was so bad,” she said.

Issues with the creek, which collects water from local storm drains along McMillan and runs west into Lonzo Creek Park, date back more than a decade, according to Copeland and her neighbour Sherri Godfrey.

While city crews visited in August to try to remedy the situation, the foul-smelling water returned last weekend.

Godfrey, who has lived in her home for some 17 years, said she has grown used to seeing the creek turn white at different times. She contacted the city more than a decade ago, but was told the discoloured water might be caused by melted, coloured ice from the nearby skating rink.

However, that explanation seems unlikely to explain the smell, and the creek has continued to turn white throughout each year, at irregular intervals.

“I’ve noticed through the years that sometimes it would have a rotten-egg type of smell,” said Godfrey.

Copeland was told this year that the white water may be due to leaks in a dairy farm’s drainage system. But she is skeptical of that explanation, suggesting that the rank smell isn’t similar to that of sour milk. Regardless, Copeland says something must be done, especially as the summers grow hotter.

“When it rains, it moves through quite quickly, but when it doesn’t, it settles into the creek bed.”

The city is aware of the issue, and developmental planning director Darren Braun visited the site last weekend after Copeland tweeted a video of the situation.

City spokesperson Katherine Treloar said the city is still trying to determine the problem, and that other regulatory bodies that deal with watercourses may be called in once more information is gathered.

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