Request for more time rejected

NANAIMO – Mayor Bill McKay presses for decision on Colliery dam remediation.

It’s time for council to choose a remediation option for the Colliery dams, says Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay.

The B.C. Comptroller of Water Rights has rejected council’s proposal for more time to pick a solution for the lower Colliery dam, prompting the mayor to call for a remediation decision in a press conference Thursday.

Nanaimo city council approved a proposal in a 5-3 vote June 22 that would see the municipality swap out remediation work on the lower Colliery dam, called for in a provincial order, and address the middle structure instead. A committee would also be struck to decide the studies needed for “due diligence” on the lower dam and a remediation solution would be picked by the end of 2016.

It’s a no-go for the comptroller. A response sent Wednesday by the province said the comptroller remains committed to the terms of the order, including actions and timelines to address potential safety hazards with the lower dam.

McKay, who called the media event independent of council, stood beside diagrams of the two remediation options he now wants council to choose between. Councillors Diane Brennan, Wendy Pratt, Ian Thorpe and Gord Fuller were in attendance.

Pending the results of a stay, the city could still face a November deadline to finish most of its remediation work.

“If in the next one to two weeks our appeal has been rejected, we need to be well on our way to making sure we can complete the work required by the time the order states,” McKay said, adding he hoped to get started Wednesday, but a special meeting lacked quorum.

“We’re at a point now, who are our constituents?

“While there’s 40 people perhaps that are actively involved in the Colliery dam issue, 88,000 people live in Nanaimo. We’ve got to get on with their business. We are spending far too much time with this project.”

Fuller believes the mayor is making it sound more serious than it is and feels thrown under the bus by the recent call to press that he said McKay didn’t have to hold.

“He could have waited and he could have let all of us on council find out about this letter and then we could have scheduled a meeting,” he said. “The hurry might be there, but it’s not immediate. We won’t hear from the Environmental Appeal Board for at least two weeks.”

Fuller says he hasn’t given up on last week’s motion and isn’t willing to choose either one of the options currently on the table, which he calls “horribly damaging” to the park in the short term. He also doesn’t believe the city has the proper studies for the dams.

His plan B if the stay is denied?

“Plan B might just be chaining myself to a tree.”

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