City council to talk dam safety with minister

NANAIMO – City will meet with the B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to talk about the Colliery dams.

Nanaimo city council wants the B.C. minister of natural resources to help chart the future of the Colliery dams.

Nanaimo city officials are meeting with B.C. Natural Resources Minister Steve Thomson during the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention next week.

According to Mayor John Ruttan, the meeting is geared at explaining to the minister why the city hasn’t been able to commit to final actions for the century-old structures, designated a public safety hazard.

City officials will also present the new short-term mitigation plan and ask for Thompson to weigh in on a long-term approach for addressing structural challenges with the middle and lower Colliery dams.

The convention is also anticipated to be an opportunity for Nanaimo council members to network and explore municipal approaches to issues like parking and taxation. The City of Nanaimo is not presenting any resolutions.

“The province of B.C. and especially the Dam Safety Branch approves or disallows anything that we are doing when it comes to mitigation on the dams,” Ruttan said, adding he doesn’t want to run into issues with non-compliance.

“We want to know [the B.C. government is] supporting our plan moving forward.”

The five-day annual convention of Union of B.C. Municipalities will draw politicians from across the province to the Vancouver Conference Centre to discuss 150 resolutions and meet with government officials. It’s rare for city officials to go and not come back with valuable new information for the city, according to Ruttan.

Councillors Bill McKay, George Anderson, Diana Johnstone, Ted Greves and Diane Brennan will be representing the City of Nanaimo at  the event.

Officials from the District of Lantzville and the Regional District of Nanaimo will also be at the convention. Lantzville is presenting a resolution for increased legal aid funding – a move anticipated to help reduce backlogs in the B.C. court system.