Protesters planning to block Colliery dam remediation efforts

NANAIMO – Dams Direct Action Group president Dave Cutts announces his group will block work on an auxiliary spillway at Colliery Dam Park.

Colliery dam protesters are preparing to block the lower Colliery dam remediation project.

Dams Direct Action Group president Dave Cutts announced Friday that his group will not stand by and allow trees to be cut, nor a massive trench to be blasted through the park.

Cutts, reading a press release from his activist group, said the city has been railroaded by the provincial government into a “costly, destructive and needless project.” His group is prepared to take a stand with measures that include blocking access and camping, and will be inviting activists from other parts of the province to get engaged. Burnaby Mountain, which saw protests last year, is the “perfect example” of the kind of action they will take, Cutts said.

“We’re not there just to make a show,” he said. “We’re there to stop the mowing down of those trees. If they don’t take down those trees, they don’t dig a trench.”

The protest announcement isn’t unexpected for Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay, who said the City of Nanaimo will have to take whatever steps necessary to ensure work gets done to comply with the comptroller’s orders.

City council unanimously agreed last week to remediate the lower Colliery dam with an auxiliary spillway, estimated to cost between $2.8 million and $4.8 million. The work is estimated by Golder Associates to see 27 trees removed, according to Toby Seward, the city’s acting general manager of community development and protective services, who says the goal is to landscape the area as much as possible after construction is complete.

The city expects to be in a position to tender the project by Sept. 1, and must be near complete remediation of the lower dam by mid-November to meet a provincial order.

For a timeline of events in the Colliery dam saga, please visit www.nanaimobulletin.com.