Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society

Byrne Creek Streamers Society has been active for over 20 years. We have no paid staff and our activities are 100% volunteer.

Byrne Creek starts from rain falling on Burnaby's south slope. A portion of the upper part of the creek was put in pipes decades ago and built on, but in more recent years, a few small sections have been brought back through "daylighting." We are fortunate that decades ago the City of Burnaby ended the practice of burying creeks in pipes, and still has many salmon-bearing streams.

Rain drains (storm drains) on streets and in parking lots collect rainwater and send it to streams. This water is not cleaned, so it carries pollution from leaking cars (gas, oil, antifreeze, tire chemicals. . . ), car washing, and construction site silt into the creek. The City of Burnaby has strong regulations to protect creeks. Byrne Creek emerges from pipes upstream of Edmonds Skytrain Station. It flows through a lush ravine in a municipal park to Southridge Drive where it enters a manmade spawning habitat and is then channeled to the Fraser River.

Illegal dumping of toxins into street drains, and events such as fires fought with chemicals, have resulted in several fish kills over the years. 

How people dispose of toxic products directly affects fish and other wildlife. Each house and business in the watershed plays a role in keeping Byrne Creek healthy. 

Buildings and roads have replaced forests and land that used to absorb rainwater and filter it naturally into groundwater that flowed slowly into the creek. Urban planning must reduce heavy runoffs that erode the ceek and can cause flooding. 

Byrne Creek History

We do not know how Byrne Creek was referred to by First Nations. If anyone does, please contact us and let us know. Peter Byrne rerouted and channeled the lower portion of the creek in 1893, likely for logging- and farming-related reasons.

To the best of our knowledge, there is no historical record of where Byrne Creek entered the Fraser River in its original unaltered state. It likely just dissipated into the vast wetlands and bogs that used to be on the south slope flats of what is now Burnaby.

There is some information on the City of Burnaby’s website and some historical maps:

https://gis.burnaby.ca/storymaps/chartingchangeatlas/index.html

Over the last several years the Burnaby Village Museum has been making efforts to incorporate more First Nations history and knowledge into its displays and activities. First Nations used the area for fishing, hunting, berry picking, etc.

The lower portion of the creek was diverted and ditched over a century ago. There is some information about Peter Byrne and his family in the City of Burnaby Heritage collection. As for the impact of diverting the creek, it basically destroyed it as a fish-bearing system for decades, at least for anadromous fish like salmon that move between fresh and saltwater over their life cycle. The bottom end of the diked ditch passed through a pump that did not allow fish passage.

The City of Burnaby rerouted the ditch some 35-40 years ago and installed flap gates at the mouth that allow fish passage. Volunteers from fish and game clubs, in concert with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the City, began restocking the creek starting in the late 1980s. 

There was a massive fish kill in 1998 that wiped out the entire creek when someone dumped a toxin down a street drain. That galvanized the community to form a streamkeeper group to help care for the creek.

Volunteers receive training from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation for activities such as monitoring salmon returning to spawn, assessing aquatic invertebrates (bug counts), juvenile fish trapping and ID, etc. 

Please remember that all drains lead to fish habitat.