Ian Bruce, executive coordinator of the Peninsula Streams Society, points towards the pond created by Reay Creek Dam. It is not clear yet whether Sidney will be able to coordinate renovation of the dam with plans by the federal government to remediate the pond. (Black Press Media File)

Improvements to Reay Creek Dam could end up raising Sidney’s costs

Sidney and Ottawa are still discussing ways to coordinate remediation

A move that promises to benefit local fish habitat could also end up costing local taxpayers, as Sidney and Ottawa continue to discuss the future of a local creek.

Randy Humble, Sidney’s chief administrative officer, said staff remain in discussion with Transport Canada about coordinating two separate projects around Reay Creek Dam near Victoria International Airport.

Sidney proposes to renovate the aging dam in place, while Transport Canada plans to clean up the pond created by the dam after acknowledging its role in contaminating it.

Coordinating the work promises to ease the impact on the local ecology, because crews would have to drain the pond only once, not twice. But it is not clear yet whether both sides can reach an agreement and it is possible that coordination could actually end up costing the municipality.

RELATED: Sidney to host open house to update residents on Reay Creek Dam project

A staff report says coordination “may require” Sidney to sign a sole source contract with the contractor who was awarded the contract from Transport Canada, a move that would see Sidney lose control over the tendering process itself. It could also end up being more expensive, at least when it comes to some elements of the project, with potential savings elsewhere.

“If this were to occur, [Sidney] would have to forego its established tendering process, which does create the potential for incurring greater costs and decreasing levels of control,” said Humble. “Having said that, the use of a single construction management contractor for both projects to be undertaken concurrently also creates potential opportunities for cost savings, higher levels of communication, and coordinated approach.” Humble also added completing both projects at the same would result in savings around de-watering the pond.

It is not clear yet if both sides would be able to coordinate with each other. “[Sidney], however, does remain hopeful that the pond remediation and dam work can occur in the same year,” said Humble.

RELATED: Sidney councillor accuses Ottawa of being uncooperative over Reay Creek Dam

RELATED: Sidney to renovate Reay Creek dam in place

Sau Sau Liu, communications advisor with Transport Canada, confirmed that the ministry remains in discussion with Sidney.

Plans call for this design to wrap up by April 2020.

Liu said it is important to see the full nature of the proposed work on the dam to determine how or if it is feasible to do “joint or concurrent projects” in a time-sensitive environment, because of the short time window in-between critical spawning and juvenile fish rearing periods for the cutthroat trout and salmon in the creek.

Sidney has budgeted $900,000 towards the dam renovations, and it is not clear yet how much the federal remediation work will cost.

“The cost of the construction contract will be determined through a competitive process,” said Liu.


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