Comptroller will consider new option for Colliery dams

NANAIMO – The city will send a detailed proposal for changes to the province's order on dam remediation.

The City of Nanaimo will make the case for changes to a provincial order on the Colliery dams after a meeting with the B.C. comptroller of water rights.

Nanaimo council agreed at a special meeting Wednesday to move ahead with a stay and an appeal to the Environmental Appeal Board to allow additional time to investigate a third dam-hardening remediation option for the dams.

The city will also prepare a written proposal for amendments to the province’s order that would include an overtopping solution and 30-day timeline extensions after the comptroller of water rights advised that he’d consider the request.

“We are finally starting to take some huge leaps forward,” said Mayor Bill McKay. “If this is an option that people will understand, accept and will allow us to go on with our work to do what we’re required to by dam safety, that’s great. The last thing in the world you want to do is find yourself going and doing another option, for example the spillway, and having people chaining themselves to trees and bulldozers because they don’t want that to go through.”

The province slapped the city with a formal order to remediate the Colliery dams earlier this month, giving it two potential options to address potential safety hazards and timelines to do the work.

The city will now pursue amendments to the order at the same time it works on a stay and an appeal.

Council was unanimous on its decision to move ahead with the measures, although Coun. Diane Brennan expressed reluctance and pointed out that considerable money will be invested in making the submission to the comptroller.

“I have reservations about continuing to spend taxpayers money with no guarantees that it will have an affect, but I am willing to have this third option on the table so that we can say that we did in fact explore all of the options,” she said.

A staff report detailing the third overtopping option will go to council on Monday.