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Telus provides assurances solution to Willow Creek obstruction will be found

Telus is committed to resolving a conflict over a pipe that is obstructing fish passage in Willow Creek.

Shawn Hall, spokesperson for Telus, said the company is well aware of the issue and is working with the city to come up with a solution.

Hall said Telus is waiting to hear back from biologists before making its next move.

“We want to hear from the scientists and we’re committed to addressing this,” Hall said. “We are actively working with the city to find a solution.”

Issues with Telus’ conduit popped up over the last year.

Hall said the pipe, which is active, was installed under the Island Highway’s Willow Creek bridge in 1979 and everything was fine until two years ago when it appears the water course changed.

In 2012, Willow Creek streamkeepers advised the city that the Telus conduit, along with two abandoned city pipes, was blocking the passage of pink salmon.

The city and Fisheries and Oceans Canada worked together on a temporary fix to allow passage during the 2013 salmon run but a few months later, Fisheries and Oceans told the city that wasn’t good enough and it would need to come up with a permanent solution.

The city thought it would be able to easily remove the three pipes and found out only recently that’s not the case.

The Telus pipe is active and provides home phone, TV, and wireless services to its customers.

It’s also estimated that it would cost Telus more than $1 million to remove it.

Hall said Telus is open to the experts’ suggestions and is waiting until the company hears back from biologists before deciding on its next course of action.

“It’s really too early to say what the solution would be,” Hall said. “We have to consider what the impact is to our customers and decide what the best solution is.

“We need to let the biologists do their work and we’ll be speaking to the city and working towards a solution.”

Hall said no matter what the scientists find, Telus is committed to ensuring the pinks are able to freely pass through the creek.

“We’re an organization with a tremendous track record on environmental stewardship,” Hall said. “The environment is very important to us (and) we need to make sure what we’re doing is the right thing for the creek.”

The city is expected to begin work on the pipes as soon as possible because the city has to avoid encroaching on the fisheries window.

If the city is not able to get the work done in time, the project will be split into two phases with the city pipes removed and temporary fish passage measures put in place before the fall.

Phase two would be completed in 2015 and involve the remaining work required to ensure permanent fish passage around the remaining Telus infrastructure.

 

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