Sidney’s Reay Creek plan back on the table May 12

Consultation into the effects of contamination in Reay Creek, as well as the impact of storm water runoff, continue to be investigated.

Consultation into the effects of contamination in Reay Creek, as well as the impact of storm water runoff, continue to be investigated in the run up to a May 12 community meeting.

James Bogusz, vice-president of operations and development at the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA), says they have hired a contractor to review storm water flows in the creek on airport property.

“That will help determine what and where the issues are,” he said, “and if we need to address that.”

In 2012, the VAA spent around $250,000 to remediate the portion of Reay Creek that runs through its property. Contaminated soil was removed and the creek channel itself moved to avoid what Bogusz said are places of contamination that date back to the 1930s and ‘40s.

“I won’t say there’s no more pollution on our land,” Bogusz said. “It’s been there for years and now the emphasis is on what can be done downstream.”

The VAA is one of the stakeholders in the Town of Sidney’s push to clean up sediment in the Reay Creek pond — just across Canora Road from the airport property. Testing in January, and other work done last year by Peninsula Streams, confirmed the presence of heavy metal contaminants in the sediment — and in the water downstream. In the wake of those results, the municipality has made investigating its cleanup options a priority.

In a meeting with the News Review, Sidney Director of Engineering Tim Tanton and Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble outlined their progress. Not only is the town looking into the pond sediment issue, but the future of the dam that created the pond in the first place.

“It’s a complex project,” said Tanton. “There’s the dam, contamination, flows and a myriad of interested parties.”

The Town’s first goal, he continued, is to establish a framework to guide everyone to possible solutions.

“It’s a strategic process,” added Humble, “and it’s not a finite plan. We will be meeting with representatives of the VAA, North Saanich and Transport Canada within two weeks to discuss process.”

Bogusz noted VAA has reached out to Transport Canada, “strongly encouraging” them to attend.

For their part, VAA continues to monitor the creek since their restoration work. A monitoring shed sits on their land, west of Canora Road. Bogusz said this is a mobile station that Transport Canada contributed to in the early 2000s. Results from it, he said, have always showed pollution.

The level of contamination in the creek today, insists the municipality, is not immediately dangerous.

Residents nearby and others have questioned that.

Tanton said the levels of contamination present were found by the Town’s consulting firm to be at a threshold acceptable for residential habitation.

That said, the long-term impact is a big question mark and one Sidney says they hope to solve through planning this year and possible corrective action in 2016 or ‘17 — in conjunction with the other parties.

Bogusz added the VAA will do its part and wants to see everyone at the table. He said he’s confident  that the good will between them will lead to solutions.

In the meantime, a Reay Creek Residents group, formed in the wake of the environmental studies, plan to meet May 12 with officials from the Victoria Airport Authority. On the table will be details of discussions between VAA, Transport Canada, Sidney and North Saanich. The Town of Sidney, too, is promising to have updated information available at that meeting. It’s scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. at the B.C. Air Museum on Norseman Road, off Canora Road in North Saanich.