Fraser Basin Council
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SUSTAINABILITY STORY

A Brighter Future for Britannia

One of FBC’s earliest sustainability stories is about people coming together for the remediation of Britannia Mine, a notoriously polluted site on BC’s Sea to Sky Highway, halfway between Vancouver and Whistler.

Britannia Mine was once described as the largest single point source metal contamination problem in North America. Britannia operated as a copper mine from 1902 to 1974 when it was closed. The mine site discharged large volumes of acidic water containing copper, zinc and cadmium throughout 70 years of operation and for decades to follow. The acid rock drainage had contaminated the water, soil and sediments in the area, and devastated marine life in Howe Sound. The situation was intolerable, and was a substantial barrier to economic and social development for the community of Britannia Beach.

The Fraser Basin Council entered the picture in 1998 to assist as a catalyst and facilitator, at the invitation of government agencies, a landowner and local residents. FBC set tables for dialogue that involved government, private sector bodies, and the community. The aim was to build a common understanding of the issue, a commitment to collaborative action, and a way forward on site remediation.

Progress was made, thanks to hard work and negotiations between the Province and past owners/operators of the mine, and an unwavering commitment of community members. The Province ultimately reached a settlement with the past owners/operators to help fund a water treatment facility, which was operational by late 2005.

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FBC Executive Director David Marshall (left) at a celebration of a water treatment
plant for Britannia.

The turn-around at Britannia has involved several steps to date — installation of an interim concrete plug by UBC to divert polluted water from a tributary to Britannia Creek, treatment of the wastewater at the new plant, and improved groundwater management. Britannia Beach is now transforming into a vital, healthy community. Pink salmon were spotted once again Howe Sound and Britannia Creek in 2011 — something hardly imaginable a decade ago and a testament to the resilience of nature when past wrongs are set right.

Our Vision

Social well-being supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy environment.

About the Fraser Basin Council

The Fraser Basin Council (FBC) is a charitable non-profit organization that brings people together to advance sustainability in the Fraser River Basin and throughout BC. Established in 1997, FBC is a collaboration of four orders of government (federal, provincial, local and First Nations) along with those from the private sector and civil society. We work with people in multiple sectors, helping them find collaborative solutions to today’s issues through a commitment to the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. Our focus is on healthy water and watersheds, action on climate change and air quality and strong, resilient communities and regions.

FBC Project and
Partner Sites

Plug in BC:
www.pluginbc.ca

BuySmart Network:
www.buysmartbc.com

BC Rural Network:
www.bcruralnetwork.ca

Rethinking our Water Ways:
www.rethinkingwater.ca

ReTooling for Climate Change:
www.retooling.ca

Climate Action Toolkit:
www.toolkit.bc.ca

Contact Us

FBC has offices in Vancouver, Kamloops, Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George. We also have staff located in Abbotsford and Vernon.

To reach us, see FBC Offices and FBC Staff.

Our main office is:

Fraser Basin Council
1st Floor, 470 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5

T: 604 488-5350
F: 604 488-5351
E: