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Source of spill that turned Sidney creek white identified

Paint runoff in Mermaid Creek is seen in this photo from the Peninsula Streams Society. Paint runoff in Mermaid Creek is seen in this photo from the Peninsula Streams Society.

The Town of Sidney says it has identified the source of a troubling spill that turned Mermaid Creek milky white on Wednesday.

Sidney chief administrative officer Randy Humble said in a statement to CTV News that paint from a residential painting project had entered the creek through the town's storm drain system.

"Residents should take care when painting and performing property maintenance to ensure that harmful substances are not entering the town’s storm system," Humble's statement reads.

"Municipal storm drains discharge into the ocean without prior treatment."

An environmental group and a local residents group have expressed concern about the spill.

"I came over and took samples and called in," said Jocelyn Gifford, chair of the Roberts Bay Residents Association.

"It was pretty alarming, not only for the ecology of the bay, but also we have a lot of neighbourhood volunteers working with peninsula streams."

The Peninsula Streams Society says it's monitoring for any harm to wildlife from the paint spill, saying the impact on birds and sea life may not be immediately noticeable.

The provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy told CTV News the Peninsula Streams Society notified it of the incident on Thursday.

The ministry notified Sidney Public Works, which is responsible for responding to incidents within the town's municipal boundary.

According to the ministry, the town traced the paint to a strata complex and has spoken to the strata manager "to try and determine who let paint water go into storm drain so that they can help them understand the risk it presents to the environment."

The ministry said it is not currently considering any enforcement action against the strata.

The Town of Sidney reminds residents that unwanted paint is collected free of charge at designated recycling areas across the province, including at the Sidney Return-It depot. More information on the safe disposal of paint can be found on the Capital Regional District website

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