Letters to the Editor

Colliery dams situation sets troubling precedent

To the Editor,

Re: City puts dams and evacuation warning system to test, Jan. 21.

The city needs to take a hard look at developing a better process to assess and carry out expensive infrastructure improvements.

The Colliery Dams saga sets an interesting precedent. Over a period of years, the city engaged qualified professionals to undertake a complex evaluation of the dams and safety risks at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Various consultants and city staff all concluded that the dams were unsafe and recommended the lowest-cost solution. However, this did not sit well with some park users that claimed the City was out to destroy their park. Council reversed several decisions and ultimately agreed to what appears to be delegating responsibility for the matter to a special-interest group. This technical committee, working mostly in camera so far, has engaged yet another consultant, at taxpayer expense, to do work that must be very similar to what has already been done.

There can only be two outcomes. Both will put the city in an unfavourable light and should be an incentive to come up with a new process for future projects. First, the work of previous consultants could be confirmed, in which case unnecessary costs have been incurred and time wasted. Second, the current work could conclude that the dams can be repaired at a cost that is not much different than the removal cost. Of course one would expect that the original consultants will then be rehired to concur.

In either case, it is clear that no one would want this kind of process repeated. The new process needs to be objective, transparent and unbiased and not simply a lobbying effort. Any oversight committee should also be unbiased and comprised of members with considerable expertise in the matter under review.

Fred Kardel
Nanaimo

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