Nanaimo city council approves Colliery dam review

NANAIMO – New concept for remediation looks at creating drainage course through Harewood Creek.

The City of Nanaimo will investigate an alternative fix for the Colliery dams, with the park preservation society and city staff still at loggerheads over proposed solutions.

Nanaimo city council approved a multi-phased review into the Colliery dams during its committee of the whole meeting Monday, which included looking at a new concept for remediation. The work is estimated to cost between $26,000 and $42,000, bumping up the city’s total expenses for the structures to more than $2.4 million.

According to a city report, the Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society and city staff members continue to disagree on  two solutions currently on the table, including expansion of the spillway. Now the groups are looking at a swale or drainage course to Harewood Creek – a third proposal they are in agreement could be viable to address flood risk if it can work. The review will look into whether the idea is feasible and how much it would cost, with a report expected   in January.

City officials will also look into capacity of the existing spillway and water distribution in an overtopping situation during the three-stage review.

Mayor John Ruttan, who approved moving forward with all of the studies, said the cost is “fairly modest” to ensure the city is on the right path.

“I just want to make sure that as we move along, we’re doing everything we can to come up with a final decision which will be the best that we can come up with,” Ruttan said.

None of the work received unanimous approval by council. Councillors George Anderson, Bill Bestwick, Ted Greves and Diane Brennan opposed the first two reviews, while Bestwick, Bill McKay and Jim Kipp were against investigation into a third remediation option.

“I think it’s time that we stop the spending, accept the information we’ve received,” Bestwick said. “We are asking for more reports that I believe that we already have the information…and if we don’t have that information, we should.”

Coun. Bill McKay said he thinks it should be dealt with by the next council. He also doesn’t want to get too far along in the process, proposing the city should first find out how much water it’s dealing with.

The city aims for a solution by February.