A representative for Sidney residents living near the pond created by the Reay Creek dam remains “cautiously optimistic” the municipality will improve the area this year as the federal government readies for remediation of the pond.
“From an environmental perspective, it is way less disruptive, from a neighbourhood perspective, it is less disruptive, and overall, it is more cost-effective to do both at the same time,” said Bill Collins, who speaks for about 60 Sidney residents, with two-thirds of them living around the pond created by the dam.
He made these comments Monday after the federal government awarded QM Environmental approximately $1.14 million for the remediation work of the pond.
Transport Canada is remediating the pond after assuming responsibility for polluting it. Municipal officials have been working with their federal counterparts for some time to determine whether it might be possible to combine the remediation of the pond with the upgrade to the dam itself.
Ian Bruce, executive coordinator of the Peninsula Streams Society, told the Peninsula News Review last year that doing both projects simultaneously would have financial as well as environmental benefits because crews would have to drain the pond created by the dam only once against the backdrop of federal fisheries regulations that require the work to be completed by Sept. 15.
At this stage, it is not clear whether Sidney will join the work.
“The determination of the Town’s dam upgrades happening concurrently with Transport Canada’s pond remediation project will depend on the selected contractor’s capacity and willingness to undertake both projects,” said Paula Kully, Sidney’s communication coordinator. “The Town is still working towards both projects happening concurrently.”
Coun. Peter Wainwright said last month that Sidney would approach the contractors chosen by the federal government to determine whether they can do the dam concurrently. “It’s not going to be safe to have two different contractors [on site],” he said. “So if the contractor that wins the tender is willing to do the work for the Town, great. Then we will be looking to get that underway. If not, then I’m afraid we will have to put off the dam remediation to next year.”
Looking at the bigger picture, Collins said neighbours welcome the federal government’s decision.
“The residents of the Kelset Creek (Reay Creek) neighbourhood are extremely happy at the contract award,” he said. “We see this as the culmination of many years of effort in bringing to light the abuse of this waterway and finally fixing the problem.”
Workers will remove an estimated 3,900 cubic-metres of sediments with elevated levels of metals from the pond, diverting the creek around the pond area to excavate the sediments, then backfilling it. An approved facility will receive the sediments for treatment and disposal. This year’s work will remove about seven times the volume of sediments as work completed last summer during the first phase of the remediation work. Environmental professionals will also transfer any fish from the pond.
Marc Garneau, federal minister of transportation, said in a release that cleaning up the pond shows the government’s environmental commitment. “Cleaning up the pond will reduce threats to the pond ecosystem and the food web, in addition to providing a healthier home for cutthroat trout and coho salmon,” he said.
According to a letter sent to residents by Sidney, project working hours will run Mondays to Fridays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The work will see crews construct a fence around the pond, adjoining park area and part of Wesbrook Drive. Crews will cut down vegetation in some upland areas, including a number of trees, for safety and access reasons.
Residents will still have full access to the trail that leads downstream from the pond, according to the letter. “After the remediation work, the pond will be restored. The upland areas, cleared for the work, will be restored with native plants and trees,” it reads.
The public heard last month that Transport Canada will follow the municipality’s tree preservation bylaw, which requires the planting of two trees for every tree removed. “Town staff and Transport Canada will continue to work together to try to retain as many trees as possible during the Reay Creek Pond Remediation project,” reads a staff report.
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