This picture, taken earlier this month, shows the work on the dam that has created Reay Creek Pond. It is not clear yet when the remediation of the pond, a federal project, and the renovation of the dam, a municipal project, will wrap up, with some portion of the work now being pushed into 2021. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Work on Sidney’s Reay Creek Dam won’t wrap until 2021

Municipality expects the pond to be ‘partially drained’ again in 2021

Work on a local infrastructure project already behind deadline won’t wrap until next year.

The Town of Sidney announced that its chosen contractor to renovate Reay Creek Dam, QM Environmental, won’t wrap up the work on the dam this year after encountering what the municipality calls “challenging” geotechnical issues.

They mean that the contractor will have to re-design a proposed fishway, with the new design not in place until 2021. The municipality had announced the delay of the project on Sept. 15.

While work on the main portion of the dam will wrap up as scheduled in 2020 along with Transport Canada’s remediation of the pond created by the dam, “the remaining fishway element will need to be completed in 2021 during the instream works window of Aug. 15 to Sept. 15,” reads a notice from the municipality.

Staff later told the Peninsula News Review that the remaining fishway elements to be completed in 2021 will help the passage of both juvenile and adult fish past the dam, with the municipality’s consultants currently working on those details.

For 2020, crews will re-establish a fish passage “equivalent” in nature to the existing passage, allowing adult fish to pass the dam.

When asked whether crews will have to drain the pond for the second time, the first time being the current work, staff said the municipality expects the pond would be “partially drained in 2021 to complete the fishway” depending on the final design.

The work would take place between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15, 2021.

“This can be accomplished through a new low level outlet control that will be installed as part of the dam renovations,” read the statement.

RELATED: Uncertainty continues to surround completion date of upgrades to Sidney’s Reay Creek area

RELATED:Upgrades to fish habitat in Sidney won’t meet deadline

This prospect threatens to negate one of the pros of renovating the dam and remediating the pond at the same time, namely of having to drain the pond just once for ecological and financial reasons.

When asked about the financial impact of this move, staff said it is too early to tell.

Transport Canada missed a Sept. 15 deadline to complete the pond remediation to accommodate the fact Reay Creek is a salmon habitat. A spokesperson said the work will be completed after Sidney has completed its dam renovation with no firm completion date available.

Sidney staff had previously cited a number of reasons for the delay around the work in the water including delays in signing the necessary paper work.

As for the issues that caused the most recent delay, staff said the challenging geotechnical conditions involve the “consistency and thickness of the (dam’s) underlying clay layer impacting the piling work construction levels of vibration.”

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