Sidney could spend more than $21,000 this year on a fish habitat study along Reay Creek — but that’s a drop in the bucket compared with what plans for a dam along the contaminated waterway could cost.
The municipality is looking at its plans for the Reay Creek dam this week. The creek and specifically a pond on the border between Sidney and the Victoria International Airport, contains high levels of cadmium, chromium, lead and zinc and is considered as Class 1 contaminated site by Transport Canada. The federal agency, which operated the airport prior to it going under the control of the Victoria Airport Authority, has taken responsibility for the contamination. Much of that occurred in the early years of the airport, after it was built during the Second World War.
Transport Canada is currently studying its options for cleaning up the pond and the municipality, which heads up a community working group on Reay Creek, is determining what can be done about the dam that was built years ago that created the pond.
In a report to council, Sidney’s Director of Developmental Services, Engineering, Parks and Works Tim Tanton states they are looking at three options: remediate the existing dam, replace it, or remove the dam.
“Staff note that the cost of all these options is expected to be significant,” Tanton wrote. “The Town does not have a specific funding source identified for remediation or removal of the dam, and the project would likely be funded by short-term borrowing.”
This year, Sidney has hired Thurber Engineering to do a preliminary analysis and provide “conceptual cost estimates” for those three options. Thurber did an assessment of the dam in 2013 and found it undersized, seismically vulnerable and built of inappropriate materials to meet current B.C. Dam Safety Guidelines.
In his report, Tanton added that any work on the dam would have an impact on the immediate environment and received this month a proposal from LGL Limited to do a fish habitat assessment of the creek. That proposal is estimated to cost more than $21,000. Tanton stated the cost is within approved budgets. Council is expected to vote this week on whether to proceed.
Tanton is also asking council to take the findings from both the engineering and fish habitat studies — expected in May 2018 — to the public for feedback on the options. That could occur in June and July this year, with a potential decision on what to do with the dam by August.
An update on the creek and its challenges will be part of a presentation hosted by the Sidney Community Association on April 8. Resident Bill Collins, who had headed up a concerned residents group, will speak about the history of Reay Creek and the struggle by residents to get attention and resources for the clean-up. Collins will be joined by Brian Koval from Peninsula Streams.
The April 8 meeting takes place at Sidney All Care, 2269 Mills Road in Sidney. It starts at 2 p.m.