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Nanaimo budgets for middle Colliery dam

NANAIMO – City staff met with province to agree on risk-based approach.

The City of Nanaimo has set aside money to assess the middle Colliery dam, as construction comes to a close on the lower dam’s multimillion-dollar auxiliary spillway this month.

Work on an auxiliary spillway at the lower Colliery dam is anticipated to be substantially complete by the end of this month, a year after the city was slapped with an order from the provincial government to address potential safety hazards on two concrete structures at Colliery Dam Park.

The city has now slotted in $75,000 for assessment of the middle Colliery dam to this year’s budget.

Under the order from the B.C. comptroller of water rights, the city had to submit a revised conceptual plan on the middle dam by the end of 2015 and must implement it no later than the end of 2017.

The city and province have met and agreed on a process to look at the middle dam, according Geoff Goodall, the city’s director of engineering and public works, who calls it a risk-based approach or one that identify failure mechanisms, like overtopping or a seismic event, with the probability of that happening and consequence

“We just put $75,000 into the budget because we believe that we may have to do something on the middle dam, but at this point we have no real knowledge of what that’s going to be,” Goodall said. “We have not done any work at all on what the middle dam is going to look at. We have no plans or anything at this point and we are not going to start looking at it until we’re finished the lower dam.”

Goodall also said the intent is to go to council before any money is spent.

This week council added $350,000 for work on the auxiliary spillway, which has been underway since September.

It’s now nearing completion, including with a connection of the spillway into Harewood Creek. There is still landscaping to do, according to Goodall, who said a committee made up of city staff, the Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society and the Harewood neighbourhood committee are working on a plan, which is posted at the park.