Letters to the Editor

City overstates Harewood flood danger

To the Editor,

The Colliery dams remain a confusing issue.

Currently there are good strides being made toward a long term solution. Knowledgeable engineers are engaged and over the next month, should be able to define what needs to be done with corresponding costs. However our group, the Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society, has had very little input with the short term emergency planning and this has been a major concern.

Emergency planning was deemed necessary in order to mitigate the risk in the event of a major seismic or rain event. We now have 70 flood warning signs in our neighbourhood and a full-volume siren drill. This is unnecessary and frightening to many. Portraying the dams as being unstable and suddenly in a dangerous state is incorrect and an alarming message for residents. The condition of the dams has remained unchanged for many years. Last winter, the engineers were in agreement that the dams were stable and no work was required until summer. Nothing has changed since then.

The Colliery dams would not be the only concern should we have a catastrophic event. A comprehensive plan for the entire city regarding emergencies would be more productive.

As part of the current work being done, engineers are applying an approved risk analysis. Imagining the possibility of an event and its related consequences is very different from the probability of such an event occurring. Adhering to a ‘worst case scenario’ is problematic in that society does not have infinite resources to manage risks approaching a zero probability of occurrence.

An approved risk analysis takes a more balanced approach. This type of analysis may prove useful for the public and administrators alike to plan effectively for this and other situations. Application of this model could lead to significant savings in the future.

I remain hopeful that this tangled process will eventually benefit everyone.

Jeff Solomon
Nanaimo

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