NEWSMAKERS: Solomon leads opposition to dam removal

NANAIMO – Jeff Solomon was chosen as one of the News Bulletin's newsmakers of 2013.

Jeff Solomon led opposition to Nanaimo city council's decision to remove the middle and lower Colliery dams.

Jeff Solomon led opposition to Nanaimo city council's decision to remove the middle and lower Colliery dams.

More than a year has passed since the city first announced in October 2012 that the Colliery Park dams had to be torn out.

Since then dozens of people have jumped on a bandwagon loaded with debate over whether to save or destroy the century-old structures, but the man pulling that wagon from the start is Harewood resident Jeff Solomon, who described the park, in a November 2012 letter to the editor, as a place that is part of Harewood’s heritage that defines the lifestyle in that district.

Provincial Dam Safety Branch studies suggested an earthquake or extreme rainfall could cause the dams to collapse, triggering a flash flood down the Chase River watercourse through Harewood that could kill an estimated 150 people.

Risk notwithstanding, there was a huge outpouring of support from Harewood residents for keeping the dams. In November last year, about 500 people who attended a rally, co-organized by Solomon at John Barsby Secondary School, made no bones they wanted the city to consider other options.

When the Colliery Dam Preservation Society was formed, Solomon became its spokesman and eventually its president.

Solomon helped keep the city and city council in the hot seat by ratcheting up public awareness through the media. He challenged the city’s data about the costs to tear out the dams, versus rebuilding them, and the level of risk they pose.

Demolition work, scheduled to begin in July, work was put on hold – and remains on hold – after Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Doug White made a presentation to city council demonstrating dam removal could be environmentally damaging to fish habitat in the Chase River Estuary.

Solomon today is a member of a technical committee formed in October, comprised of preservation society representatives, Snuneymuxw, city staff, professional engineers and construction specialists, that is determining the long-range options for remediation of the potential risks posed by the dams.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Nanaimo, as seen from the Nanaimo Parkway. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo’s state of the economy report points to positive outlook in hard times

Job losses and shutdowns have hurt, but some sectors showing resiliency

Firefighters from three departments battled a house fire south of Nanaimo for more than nine hours Sunday. (Photo courtesy Martin Leduc)
Home destroyed by fire south of Nanaimo

Firefighters from three fire departments battle blaze fanned by strong southerly winds on Sunday

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared over at Eden Gardens. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Nanaimo’s Eden Gardens

One staff member and one resident tested positive for the virus over past two weeks

Gabriola Island poet Naomi Beth Wakan’s latest book is ‘Wind on the Heath.’ (Photo courtesy Elias Wakan)
Former Nanaimo poet laureate revisits past poems in latest collection

Gabriola Island’s Naomi Beth Wakan presents career-spanning ‘Wind on the Heath’

(Black Press file photo)
Homicide team to look into death of 11-year-old Agassiz boy

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

A publicly accessible defibrillator as well as naloxone and first aid kits are included in a stand that has been installed at Crescent Beach. It is one of two planned for the South Surrey neighbourhood as St. John Ambulance works to install 1,000 of the life-saving devices around the province. (Contributed photo)
St. John Ambulance aims to install 1,000 publicly accessible AEDs across B.C.

Sponsors sought for stands that cost about $8,000 to equip and install

Left: Oakland County Jail. Right: Canuck Todd Bertuzzi on November 2, 2005. (CP/Chuck Stoody)
Former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi arrested for suspected DUI: report

The Canadian winger had a complicated history in the NHL

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

Most Read