A warning sign was installed near the fish fence following the oil spill. (Photo courtesy Dorothy Chambers)

Saanich crews tackle Colquitz River oil spill

Absorbent booms installed to contain the oil

A river advocate applauds the quick response of Saanich staff after two oil spills in just over a week threatened the Colquitz River. Oil was spotted spilling into the river near Tillicum Centre on Friday morning and Saanich crews were quick to respond.

Early on May 1, the District received reports of an oil spill near the fish fence in Cuthbert Holmes Park, confirmed Saanich spokesperson Kelsie McLeod.

Crews installed booms in the water to absorb the oil before investigating the source of the spill, she explained. Around 11 a.m., municipal staff were searching near Sims and Regina avenues for the source.

READ ALSO: Water contamination halts CRD project construction at Colquitz River

Colquitz River advocate and Salmon in the City volunteer Dorothy Chambers learned of the spill on Friday morning and rushed down to the fish fence. She added that this spill didn’t appear to be heating oil as there was no odour but noted that as of noon, it was still flowing from the storm drains.

Chambers said there was another oil spill in the same river just over a week ago. On April 22, she was walking near Portage Inlet and spotted the slick. She reported it and a Saanich crew arrived shortly after.

READ ALSO: Colquitz River salmon draw school kids and passersby alike

She’s grateful to the Saanich crews for their quick response to both spills. The Colquitz River is home to a variety of wildlife, including salmon, otters and migratory birds, she said, adding that oil spills can be deadly even if they’re just a thin skim on the water.

Spills like these are a reminder of what wildlife face while travelling through rivers in urban areas, Chambers said. She hopes that by spreading the word and bringing “community awareness” to oil spills, residents will know what to look for when it comes to river contamination.

READ ALSO: Home oil tank to blame for spill in Esquimalt’s Gorge Creek

“If you see it or smell it and it doesn’t belong in the river, report it,” Chambers said.

To report an oil spill or contamination, Chambers recommends calling Emergency Management British Columbia at 1-800-663-3456 and asking for a Dangerous Goods Incident Report file number in case there’s a need to call back. Reports can also be made to Report All Polluters and Poachers at 1-877-952-7277.


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Crews have installed absorbent booms near the Colquitz River fish fence to contain the oil spill. (Photo courtesy Dorothy Chambers)

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