Shoal Harbour Bird Sanctuary could benefit from new look

I commend the Town of Sidney for responding quickly to a fuel oil spill entering Roberts Bay, March 29 (see story Page A1). The spill was traced to the perimeter drain of a private residence and a failed fuel oil tank leaking into the storm sewer system.

The turquoise pipe at Ardwell Avenue is the delta of a watershed that includes the Ardwell neighbourhood up to the Pat Bay Highway. The fresh water input from this source is smaller than Mermaid Creek but together they are vital to the environmental quality of this productive estuary. Mermaid Creek also goes underground into the turquoise pipe system, and drains a watershed as far south as the Safeway parking lot.

In recent years, water quality has improved markedly in Mermaid Creek due to removal of the industrial input and improvements in the storm sewer system. Still, this spill, which is relatively minor, reminds us that we are individually responsible for what gets flushed down our drains, or the chemicals applied to our gardens.

Last winter, the Ardwell outlet poured sediment-laden water into the bay from poorly-timed ditch digging activities along the Pat Bay Highway.

It’s unfortunate that Ardwell Creek at the bufflehead kiosk looks like an industrial storm sewer outlet. If it was engineered with a settling pond and gravel filter, and landscaped to fit the natural beauty of the bay, it would enhance public appreciation and awareness of our environment.

The native plant garden and interpretive kiosk there, provides one of the finest scenic vistas over the sanctuary and the Gulf Islands.

Shoal Harbour Sanctuary is one of the oldest marine migratory bird sanctuaries in Canada, established by the federal government in 1931.

Under the Migratory Bird Act, we are responsible for maintaining the habitat of migratory birds.

James K. Finley



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