Rotting sea lion carcass among city manager’s problems

Dozens of memos/emails authored by Sadhu Johnston now available on city’s website

12th and Cambie

Bet you didn’t know this – that the best way to dispose of a rotting sea lion carcass is to have the city’s engineering and sanitation crews set fire to it.

Yep, it’s true.

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How do I know?

Because I read an email from city manager Sadhu Johnston to mayor and council that said the carcass of this poor sea lion found on the shoreline adjacent to Fraser River Park was causing such a smell that it was time to take some action.

It was one of many memos/emails the city recently dumped into the bowels of its website. All are from either Johnston or deputy city manager Paul Mochrie to mayor and council. They make for some semi-fascinating reading.

Topics include the city’s snow removal strategy, slot machine revenue, cyclists failing to obey traffic laws, the sale of the city’s portion of Olympic Village land to Aquilini Development, the Royal Couple’s visit and the retirement of Fire Chief John McKearney (it’s in June, by the way).

Last year’s 4/20 festival, the former tent city at 58 West Hastings, taxi licensing, the city budget, the screening of the Tragically Hip’s concert at the Vancouver Playhouse and the number of people who watch the city’s livestream of council meetings (1,016 in July 2015, only 200 in January 2016) are other topics.

But back to that rotting sea lion carcass…

A year ago today -- which I guess is an anniversary of sorts -- Johnston got busy on his keyboard and sent an email to mayor and council to inform them of the carcass and the plan to burn it.

“Because of the advanced state of decay, it’s been a challenge to determine how best to remove the remains without their disintegrating further and dispersing along the shore,” he wrote. “City engineering and Fire, with advice from the Department of Fisheries, Coast Guard and Vancouver Aquarium staff, have decided this morning that burning away the carcass is the best solution. This is a common practice in many coastal communities, according to the Aquarium.”

Firefighters, he added, would provide “a water curtain” to protect foliage above the shoreline and “wash down the rocks afterwards.” Park board staff would also be on scene trimming back nearby brush to prevent it from going up in flames. The park, by the way, is at the foot of Angus Drive.

“This approach, while environmentally unpleasant due to combustion, will in fact rid the shoreline of the carcass,” Johnston concluded. “As burning within the city boundaries is not allowed under the Fire bylaw, the Fire Chief is issuing a special permit.”

The deed was to be done the next day.

So there you have it, Vancouver, next time you come across the rotting carcass of a sea lion, you’ll know that Johnston and company are on the case. Mother Nature and the animal ecosystem taking its course, be damned.

RIP, sea lion.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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