A political decision to study the Colliery dams has put the City of Nanaimo at risk of breaching a provincial order.
City council voted 5-4 to have a new committee study the Colliery dams and pursue a remediation solution for the middle dam. The B.C. Comptroller of Water Rights has given the city until July 24 to hand over construction plans for the lower dam, a structure that must be fixed by mid-November. Council’s vote doesn’t include remediation for the lower structure and calls staff to bring back terms of reference for a committee by July 27.
Coun. Gord Fuller said it didn’t make sense to remediate without additional information, like spillway capacity, and after the decision was made, added it could be interpreted that council is going to ignore the order.
Coun. Jim Kipp said the ability to get proper data that’s missing and deal with the middle dam to try and reduce risk to the lower dam is important to him.
Coun. Ian Thorpe, however, argued the motion ignores the guidelines the city has been given.
“We don’t have more time to explore mitigation options that do not comply with dam safety regulations,” he said, later adding that it directs staff to work in a way that condones non-compliance and continues to put the corporation at risk.
The city is expected to send a letter to the province this week. The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said in an e-mail it would be inappropriate to comment without correspondence from the city but that the comptroller is considering options.