Coun. Barbara Fallot (centre, holding sign) was among a group of local volunteers clearing invasive, harmful English ivy from trees in the riparian near Reay Creek Dam earlier this month as part of a project organized by the Peninsula Streams Society. It has welcomed efforts by Sidney to renovate the dam in place (Brian Koval/Submitted).

Coun. Barbara Fallot (centre, holding sign) was among a group of local volunteers clearing invasive, harmful English ivy from trees in the riparian near Reay Creek Dam earlier this month as part of a project organized by the Peninsula Streams Society. It has welcomed efforts by Sidney to renovate the dam in place (Brian Koval/Submitted).

Sidney councillor accuses Ottawa of being uncooperative over Reay Creek Dam

Coun. Scott Garnett says federal government is not doing enough to help Sidney

Environmental problems caused by the federal government could end up costing Sidney residents, prompting a Sidney councillor to accuse Ottawa of being uncooperative.

Coun. Scott Garnett levelled the charge as Sidney is moving ahead with the renovation of Reay Creek Dam along Reay Creek. Transport Canada acknowledged earlier that its past activities on nearby Victoria International Airport had contaminated the pond created by the dam and is promising to clean it up. But officials with Transport Canada have so far refused to coordinate its remediation work with Sidney’s renovation work.

Jenn Clary, Sidney’s director of engineering, said the current cost estimate of $720,000 rests on the work being done with the federal government draining the pond as part of its remediation efforts. But she said conversations with federal officials have deemed this development “unlikely.” She added localized draining “may further inflate” the cost of the project. Sidney continues to speak to federal officials, she said.

RELATED: Sidney to renovate Reay Creek dam in place

RELATED: Reay Creek pond remediation delayed to limit impacts on wildlife

This apparent refusal by the federal government angered Coun. Scott Garnett, who said he felt “very frustrated” by the behaviour of the federal government.

“I feel they have acknowledged that the problem exists with them and lies with them,” he said. “They should be willing to do more to work with us as a town to get this stuff all done together and I feel like they are not doing their part.”

Garnett also said it might be time for Sidney to work through local MP Elizabeth May to get the attention of the federal government. “With the new [incoming] minister [of transportation], we should keep the fire lit, so to speak,” he said. He also encouraged local residents to voice their concerns. Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said a previous meeting with May was helpful, as she raised the matter directly with Marc Garneau, federal transportation minister, who then followed up with Transport Canada.

Randy Humble, Sidney’s chief administrative officer, said Ottawa is aware of the fact that Sidney would like to work with the federal government in 2020.

“They are not saying no, but they are saying there are challenges,” he said.

If Garnett represented one side of the argument, Coun. Peter Wainwright showed some sympathy for the perspective of the federal government.

“Transport Canada is concerned about the safety of having two large construction projects going on at the same site,” he said. “That is not a completely unreasonable concern.” That said, Sidney believes it can be done safely, and is willing to make compromises, he added.

He also tried to temper any political anger towards Ottawa. Federal officials cannot accurately evaluate the safety issues until they have final designs before them, he said. Until such time, federal officials will be able to deflect, he said. This makes it imperative for Sidney to complete the design work as quickly as possible, he said, an argument shared by Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith.

He said in a follow up email that additional pressure concerns the timing of the work as the the federal department of fisheries and oceans has limited construction on both projects to a window between June to mid-September because the creek and pond are fish habitat. Staff, he added, are in regular discussions with Transport Canada and the dam design work due in April will provide important information about whether the projects will happen simultaneously.

Council also announced it plans to hold a public information session early in 2020 to update the public on plans concerning the dam.

This discussion took place as Sidney council approved the hiring of Kerr Wood Leidal to design the dam renovation at a cost of $174,500. As mentioned, current estimates peg the actual construction cost at $720,000 with refined figures not available until April 2020. This figure places the project outside its original budget of $600,000 and in line with predicted cost escalations by Coun. Terri O’Keeffe, who had warned earlier that the project could end up costing around $750,000.

Council has ear-marked $900,000 for the remediation of the dam with the funds coming from some $1.9 million left from the sale of the old fire hall and adjacent parking lots with $174,500 cost of design work and the rest going to the actual dam construction work.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Digital Divide–Community Technology Help Desk program looks to provide vulnerable Victoria residents with access to technology. (Black Press Media)
Technology lending library and help desk now available in Victoria

United Way Greater Victoria hopes the program will help close the digital divide

More than 46 per cent of Vancouver Island residents reported worsening health during COVID-19 in a province-wide survey released Dec. 4. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Islanders’ mental health takes heavy hit under COVID-19: survey results

COVID-19 SPEAK survey collected results from nearly 400,000 B.C. residents

The Capital Regional District and Island Health advised against swimming in or drinking water from Elk and Beaver Lake Regional Park after a toxic blue-green algae bloom was reported on Dec. 5. (Black Press Media file photo)
CRD warns of toxic algae bloom at Elk/Beaver Lake

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

A holiday lights and music display on Walter Avenue in Saanich aims to lift spirits amid the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Katie Bone)
VIDEO: Huge Christmas display in Saanich neighbourhood aims to raise spirits amid pandemic

Cheer-seekers invited to stop by 326 Walter Avenue for lights, music and Santa Claus

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of B.C. social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders ‘nothing short of complete depravity’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Information about the number of COVID-19 cases in Abbotsford and other municipalities poses a danger to the public, the Provincial Health Services Authority says. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, B.C. provincial health agency says

Agency refuses to release weekly COVID-19 case counts, citing privacy and public health concerns

Most Read