Central Park: West End beaches unfit for swimming

Seen under a microscope, water samples taken last week off both Second and Sunset beaches must look a little like the bar scene from Star Wars.
According to Vancouver Coastal Health, our extended warm spell combined with an increase in sunbathers, dogs, geese and boaters created a perfect storm for elevated E. coli counts to make those beaches unsafe for swimming.
As a result, beach closure notices were placed at Second and Sunset beaches Aug. 9. Water samples taken at Jericho Beach also indicate rising E. coli levels but not nearly as extreme as Sunset and Second. As of Aug. 9, the E. coli count at Sunset Beach was 320 compared to 210 at Second and 56 at Jericho.
The health authority says repeated daily sampling will be carried out at these locations until the counts drop below the Canadian guidelines for recreational water quality "concentration limit for recreational waters used for primary contact activities, which is set at geometric mean (minimum of five samples) of 200 MPN/100mL."
Vancouver Coastal Health and city staff have followed the coliform counts for the past few weeks and are investigating to ensure there are no failures in the sewer system, but so far nothing unusual has been identified. Metro Vancouver staff also reviewed its system with similar negative results. Coincidently, Metro Vancouver is facing charges under the Fisheries Act for allegedly dumping raw sewage from a combined overflow pipe at Brockton Point into Burrard Inlet two years ago. That case is to reconvene in court in October.
The signs will be kept in place until Vancouver Coastal Health deems the water safe for swimming.
YOU SAY "POPULAR" I got called out by reader Bill Campbell this week for recently describing the new OneCard being offered by the park board as "popular."
The controversial card is one of the items included in a proposed joint-management agreement under negotiation between the park board and some of the city's community centre associations. If that agreement is ratified, all of the city's community centres could accept the OneCard by September. Or not.
According to the park board, 30,000 Vancouver residents signed up for the card in the first month since its launch. According to Campbell, it wasn't a matter of him "signing up" for the card. He says he had no choice.
"Your column in the Courier described the OneCard as being most popular at Hillcrest (6,088)," Campbell wrote to me in an email.
"To me, the word 'popular' means 'widely liked or appreciated by people in general,' and so referring to the OneCard as popular implies it was specifically chosen for the features that it offers."
He continued, "When our 10-pass plastic card for the Hillcrest Pool expired, we were given the OneCard as the replacement, we were not offered any other choices. In addition, the OneCard came with three free drop-ins, so we were hardly likely to decline the offer. I think the stats indicating the 'popularity' of the OneCard contain a large number of people who didn't make a conscious choice to select the OneCard over other options so the use of the word 'popular,' is I think, misleading."
sthomas@vancourier.com twitter.com/sthomas10

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