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Telus won’t remove pipes blocking Willow Creek

Telus does not want to remove equipment in Willow Creek that is obstructing fish passage, according to the city.

Telus has a duct bank under the bridge that crosses the creek on the Island Highway near Rona.

There is also an abandoned water main and an abandoned sewer, both of which belong to the city.

After Willow Creek streamkeepers advised the city in 2012 that the three pipes were blocking the passage of pink salmon runs, the city worked with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on a temporary fix that allowed fish passage for the 2013 salmon run.

However, Fisheries and Oceans informed the city in November of 2013 that it would need to come up with a permanent solution and that the work be completed during the 2014 fish window which is between June 15 and Sept. 15.

Jennifer Peters, the city’s utilities manager, said the city assumed all three pipes were abandoned and could easily be removed. That turned out not to be the case.

“In May 2014, Telus advised staff that the Telus infrastructure was active and that removal and relocation of their infrastructure would be extremely expensive,” Peters said. “Telus has let staff know that removing the duct bank would cost in excess of $1 million and the work would have a significant impact on its customers.

“Telus has confirmed that they will work with the city to develop a solution to the concerns raised by DFO (Fisheries and Oceans) and the streamkeepers.”

Coun. Larry Samson said Telus, a billion dollar company, should be held accountable.

“While this is a costly thing, I think we have to ensure Telus does the right thing and if it can’t be removed then we have to ensure the creek becomes, I’ll say, habitat-friendly,” Samson said.

Peters said the city will work with Telus, DFO, and the streamkeepers to come up with a solution and will request financial assistance from Telus for part of the work.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, said the city will ensure work on the pipes does not conflict with the pink salmon run.

“We’re very aware of the perspective of the local stream stewards in terms of getting the work done as soon as possible to ensure minimal conflict with the pink returns,” Neufeld said.

The city plans to have all of the work completed in 2014.

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