Conservation officers investigate fish kill in Sidney creek

B.C. Conservation officers are investigating the deaths of hundreds of fish in Sidney’s Reay Creek.

On Friday afternoon, a five-year-old boy visiting the park with his parents spotted more than 300 cutthroat trout, coho, stickleback and crayfish lying dead on the bottom of the creek. The boy’s parents reported the fish kill to the Town of Sidney. Municipal staff then called Ian Bruce, executive co-ordinator of the Peninsula Streams Society, to investigate.

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Bruce, who pulled the dead fish from a 150-metre stretch of the creek, concluded the fish were likely killed by bleach entering a perimeter drain.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has launched a joint investigation with Environment Canada, the province said Wednesday.

Conservation officers are gathering information and following leads. When they know what happened, they will decide whether B.C.’s conservation office or Environment Canada will be the lead agency.

Conservation officers were taking samples and knocking on doors, Bruce said Wednesday.

On Thursday, teachers from Deep Cove elementary school will be releasing fish into the creek.

“It’s a little bit of a silver lining. It’s a renewal story. The community responds. That’s great,” Bruce said.

Transport Canada and the Town of Sidney began cleaning up Reay Creek Pond last year after years of public pressure. In 2017, the creek was designated a Class 1 contaminated site and deemed a “high priority” for remediation after sediment samples revealed high levels of heavy metals, including cadmium, zinc, chromium and lead.

Reay Creek begins on the north face of Mount Newton and flows through North Saanich and the airport lands before emptying into Reay Creek Pond, about 200 metres downstream of Canora Road.

The contamination of the pond has been linked to industrial activity at the airport as far back as 75 years ago, when it was operated by Transport Canada. The Victoria Airport Authority has already done extensive work to remediate the section of Reay Creek that flows through its property.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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