The distinctive buildings and grounds that comprise the head office campus of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) on the eastern end of False Creek Flats in Vancouver have been certified as the first Salmon-Safe urban site in British Columbia.

The recognition came today from the Fraser Basin Council and Pacific Salmon Foundation, non-profit organizations that jointly deliver the Salmon-Safe program in BC. Since 2011, over 45 BC farms, ranches and wineries have been certified as Salmon-Safe for actions they take to protect Pacific salmon, enhance water quality and restore habitat. Building on momentum on the agricultural landscape, Fraser Basin Council launched the urban Salmon-Safe initiative in 2014.

MEC earned the Salmon-Safe certification for its progressive land and water management practices at its head office facility, including the on-site capture and use of rainwater, rain garden swales designed to filter storm water, and other environmentally friendly landscaping practices. “I commend MEC on its vision and leadership in achieving Salmon-Safe urban certification standards,” said David Marshall, Executive Director the Fraser Basin Council. “Here is a good example of how environmentally innovative practices, even in the middle of a city, can help protect Pacific salmon by enhancing the quality of water that ultimately flows back to streams, rivers and marine habitat.” Marshall encouraged BC businesses, communities, institutions and non-profit organizations to show leadership in their communities by seeking Salmon-Safe certification for the sites they develop, renovate or manage, such as offices, retail centres, parks and campuses in urban and suburban areas.

“MEC Salmon-Safe certification adds to the successes we have had in encouraging fish-friendly practices on agricultural land, with more than 10,000 acres currently certified Salmon-Safe across the province” said Dr. Brian Riddell, President and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation. “But most of BC’s population live in urban areas, so I welcome the leadership of MEC in achieving the first certified urban site. I hope this increases the profile of Salmon-Safe as an important ecological certification that applies broadly in urban and rural environments. Salmon-Safe certification is another step towards MEC’s goal of net zero environmental impact for its buildings.

MEC’s head office, located on Great Northern Way across from China Creek Park, is highly energy and water efficient and designed to LEED Platinum standards. The Salmon-Safe assessment panel noted MEC’s strong commitment to water sustainability and innovative approaches to environmental best practices. In particular, MEC:

  • captures rainwater to irrigate its rooftop garden and to flush toilets in the building, cutting use of non-potable water by 55%
  • captures storm water in the parking lot and directs it through a bio-filtration rain garden • landscapes with drought-tolerant native plants
  • uses no chemical pesticides or herbicides, and
  • fertilizes as indicated by periodic soil testing, using slow-release organic fertilizers or compost, if needed.

MEC CFO Sandy Treagus said, “This is a tremendous honour, and we are delighted that our new headquarters is now recognized as being Salmon-Safe. By carefully managing water, our facility demonstrates the potential of urban developments in BC to positively influence the future of Pacific salmon in the province.”