City begins major sewer work to support Cambie Corridor growth

Excavator digging up sewer line with opening visible
October 17 2023 –

This week, crews will break ground on the first phase of the Oak Street Sewer Separation Upgrades. When complete, the new higher capacity, separated pipe system will serve the growing Cambie Corridor where more than 50,000 new residents are expected to live by 2040. The project will also advance the City’s regulatory requirement to eliminate Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) by 2050. 

“More sewer capacity means we can support more homes. It is essential work that protects public health and allows our city to grow and adapt, while building the housing we need,” says Mayor Ken Sim, “This project directly addresses the significant sewer infrastructure deficit we have inherited and is a demonstration of our commitment to do everything we can to get more homes built. It also makes the local sewer system more resilient to climate change and extreme weather, while contributing to improving water quality in the Fraser River.”

The Cambie Corridor Plan was approved in 2018, making the Cambie Corridor the biggest growth area outside of downtown. The Oak Street Sewer Separation Upgrades work is valued at $28.5 million and is one of the largest projects in the current Capital Plan. The project is part of a neighbourhood utilities servicing plan developed to enable growth in this area. 

Funding for the Capital Plan comes from a variety of sources and includes private development contributions that support expanded infrastructure and amenities through the City’s financial growth policy. The majority of funding for this project will come from private development contributions through the Utilities Development Cost Levy, with additional support from local development projects. Work includes replacement of aging combined sewer infrastructure with separated pipes along Oak Street, West 70th Avenue and Fremlin Street. 

Vancouver has a legacy of combined sewers that carry sewage and rainwater in the same pipe. The system was designed this way to prevent wastewater treatment plants and pipes from flooding. When the combined pipes on Fremlin Street and along Oak Street are over-capacity during heavy rains, a mixture of rainwater and sewage (called CSOs) is released into the Fraser River. CSOs can harm aquatic species and cause immediate and long-term damage to the local ecosystem. Separated sewers carry sewage and rainwater in different pipes, preventing CSOs and increasing system capacity for more sewage from population growth and heavier rain from climate change.