The Town of Sidney supports efforts to rename Reay Creek to KELSET, its traditional SENCOTEN name. (Black Press Media file photo)

Town of Sidney signs off on Reay Creek name change to KELSET

Name change does not affect surrounding parkland, but public supports doing so

  • Jun. 20, 2021 12:00 a.m.

The Town of Sidney supports plans to rename Reay Creek to KELSET.

At Monday’s council meeting (June 14), councillors unanimously endorsed the proposed name change – initiated by the B.C. Geographical Names office – which relates to the creek but not the surrounding parkland. This said, a recent survey undertaken by the municipality as part of plans to improve Reay Creek Park found more than 70 per cent of respondents favoured renaming the park to correspond with the new name of the creek.

KELSET is the SENCOTEN name for the creek and means ‘bailing’ in its literal translation to English.

According to a letter to Sidney from B.C. Geographical Names, the WSANEC people travelling from the outer islands back to the Saanich Peninsula would often get pushed toward KELSET and would need to bail out their canoes.

RELATED: Restoring Indigenous place names rebuilds relationships to land: University of Victoria scholar

In a report to council, staff said the existing Reay Creek signage would require replacement, which could coincide with future improvements to the park. Staff said any future signage could include references to brothers William and Charles Reay, who settled in the area in 1875.

Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said he and chief administrative officer Randy Humble had preliminary discussions with the WSANEC leadership council about interpretative signage describing the ecological significance of the area to local First Nations, as well as ways to prevent incidents like the recent bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish.

RELATED: Several hundred fish dead in Sidney’s Reay Creek after suspected bleach leak

According to Coun. Peter Wainwright, Tulista Park and Tsehum Harbour are other local landmarks using the traditional SENCOTEN names.

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Peninsula News Review