Nanaimo council approves dam remediation process

NANAIMO – A new technical committee will be struck to look at options to remediate the Colliery dams.

Finding a way to remediate Nanaimo’s century-old Colliery dams is now in the hands of a new technical committee.

Nanaimo city council unanimously agreed to launch a two-year process to mitigate the risk at the middle and lower Colliery dams, during an open meeting Monday.

The multi-phased process is focused on remediation of the dams – an option council originally discounted because of its $17-$30.7 million price tag.

According to city manager Ted Swabey, less expensive options will be considered. It is unknown how much the recently approved planning and mitigation process will cost. The city has spent approximately $850,000 to date and anticipates the first stages of the new strategy to tally between $100,000 and $400,000.

The newly formed technical committee will research data and commission studies on the condition of the dams and their hazard rating. They will also be determining the long-range options to remediate the dams and will potentially develop a plan for short-term structural changes needed to satisfy provincial requirements.

The group will be made up of Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society representatives, Snuneymuxw First Nation, city staff, professional engineers and construction specialists.

In the new strategy, the city will also create a communications strategy to engage the public and retain sole-source contracts for consultants in dam construction, biology and structural design.

ing down … and talking this over,” said Coun. Jim Kipp. “It’s an important asset in all of our minds and that is why we’ve got to this point.”

The fate of the Colliery dams has been hanging in the balance since last October, when city council faced public opposition over plans to demolish the dams.

The recent decision to investigate remediation is the third measure council has approved to address the structures’ reported public safety hazards. It was recommended by city staff members because it doesn’t involve removal of the dams – an option that has received considerable opposition, according to a report.

Jeff Solomon, president of the Save the Colliery Dams Society, said the new strategy is a collaborative process and instrumental in making a good park plan.

The first phase of work is scheduled to begin this December. Construction of long-term mitigation improvements is slated for 2015.