City’s grounds for appeal on dam called ‘frivolous’

NANAIMO – Comptroller gives arguments against stay on Colliery dam deadline.

Problematic and at times “dysfunctional decision making” caused the delays that put the City of Nanaimo in the position of having to urgently comply with a tight deadline, charges the B.C. Comptroller of Water Rights.

The comptroller and its legal counsel pulled no punches with civic politicians or the City of Nanaimo in an argument to the Environmental Appeal Board against the city’s request for a stay of an order to fix the Colliery dams.

It says councillors are confusing political accountability to constituents with their fiduciary duty to the corporation of the City of Nanaimo to ensure it complies with the law and that the city’s grounds for an appeal is “so baseless and unsubstantiated as to be frivolous.”

The countermove comes on the heels of the city’s plea to the environmental board to put the province’s remediation order and deadline on the lower dam on hold until its case for an appeal is heard. The city’s own legal argument says the provincial order’s short timelines and narrow choices for remediation is unreasonable and could see significant resources spent by the municipality that might not be necessary. It wants time to consider options.

Mayor Bill McKay isn’t convinced the city will win this fight.

“Evidence is against us. Fact is, I just don’t believe that our arguments are strong enough,” he said, adding he’s scheduling a meeting for Wednesday to review the entire stay, appeal and next steps for the Colliery dams.

“We’ve been told, even by the comptroller of water rights, don’t give up your appeal, carry on, but we need to prepare for the potential that we could lose.”

The Environmental Appeal Board is anticipated to make a decision on the stay in early July.

Win and everything is held in abeyance until an appeal is heard. Lose and Toby Seward, the city’s acting general manager of community development and protective services, believes the city will continue to face a November deadline to finish the Colliery dam work.

“Our basic decision is we need to be in the ground by Sept. 1 at the latest to actually be able to do the work,” Seward said.