OUR VIEW: Contaminated site for sore eyes

Residents are right to be skeptical about any cleanup of Reay Creek pond.

Residents are right to be skeptical about any cleanup of Reay Creek pond, no matter who might be overseeing the operation.

But while it’s easy to lay blame, people who live along the creek and next to the pond are moving beyond their frustration, to their credit, with an eye on reaching a solution.

It has taken more than 15 years to reach a point where probably the largest concentration of heavy metal contaminants — the sediment in Reay Creek pond — is about to be addressed. Some of the people involved in this case have known there was contamination since testing done in 1998. That knowledge is likely to go back even further for some people, as the area has been used as an industrial site for decades, since the airport was first built in the 1930s.

The Victoria Airport Authority spent a lot of time and money to remediate the portion of the creek that flows through their property and by all accounts is willing to play a role in further cleanup. While they must be credited for taking responsibility where they can, it must be pointed out that the airport land is still industrial — a fact clearly illustrated in a spill of chemicals at Viking Air last month. In some respects, then, the issue may persist for decades more.

Sidney is publicly stepping up as the leader in this effort, as the pond itself is on their side of Canora Road. Their challenge will be to get the airport authority, District of North Saanich and the previous land owners, Transport Canada, to all come to the table.

If anything is to be accomplished, those parties will have to sit down and come to some sort of agreement. Residents are right when they say Sidney should not wait but take the bull by the horns and make the overtures on their own. Work co-operatively, yes, but take that leadership role to a higher level.

Cleaning up the area will cost a lot more than the $40,000 allocated in Sidney’s budget this year, so it’s unlikely the Town will go on its own as a result. The expense, in the end, may push any action back a year or two and Sidney is clear in saying so.

Yet, by putting themselves out there in the lead role, Sidney will have to expect residents will be there, waiting, while the pond remains a contaminated site in need of help.