Consultation continues on dams

City officials are offering to hold talks about the next steps for the Colliery dams as the municipality nears its new provincial deadline.

City officials are offering to hold talks with Snuneymuxw First Nation and citizen advocates Monday about the next steps for the Colliery dams as the municipality nears its new provincial deadline.

The city is prepared to talk with stakeholders like the Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society about moving forward, the recent letter from the B.C. Water Management Branch and whether there’s  common ground, according to city manager Ted Swabey.

The move comes on the heels of a divisive vote at Monday’s open council meeting that defeated a motion by Coun. Ian Thorpe for a report on options to fix the dams, costs and environmental impacts – and left Nanaimo city staff members with an earlier directive to do further consultation.

Thorpe had argued that the Colliery dam issue has gone on for two years and it’s time for city council to take action. The community is under a March 27 deadline from the province to hand in a revised plan for the dams.

“A risk has been identified and like it or not we have a moral and a legal responsibility to respond,” he said.

The motion failed in a 4-4 vote with councillors Bill Yoachim, Jim Kipp, Bill Bestwick and Jerry Hong opposed. Kipp said he had a problem accepting reports because time has gone by and that last week’s response by the province is “just a letter from about a fifth-level bureaucrat in Forest, Land and Natural Resources that’s telling me to do something in my community that I don’t agree with.”

Yoachim called Thorpe’s bid inconsistent with one approved Feb. 2 and wanted assurances different parties would get together.

Swabey told the News Bulletin there’s a need to talk about the province’s deadline, moving forward and see if there’s common ground including whether the Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society can be in a position to be part of any of the recommendations.

City staff plans to go back to council for a decision on March 23 at the latest, he said.

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