Snuneymuxw withdraws from Colliery Dam consultation

NANAIMO – Snuneymuxw First Nation has withdrawn from consultation process with the city over the removal of two dams from Colliery Dam Park.

Snuneymuxw First Nation has withdrawn from a 30-day consultation process with the city over the removal of two dams from Colliery Dam Park.

City council was expected to pick a company to do the dam removal work at a July 8 council meeting, but a presentation from Snuneymuxw Chief Douglas White III prompted Coun. Bill McKay to make a motion to conduct further discussions with the First Nation and exhaust all of the possible options and considerations before awarding the dam removal contract. The motion was amended to include the 30-day window.

But White said Thursday Snuneymuxw is concerned the city is not acting in the spirit of the motion.

He said the motion implied the parties would spend the 30 days exhausting all possible options and considerations, but the city has made it clear no further work will be done to revisit, reassess or confirm information on other options, such as strengthening and repairing the existing dams, which have been deemed a potential threat to human life.

“They made it clear they are not interested in doing any further work,” he said.

White also alleged city staff have told the facilitator appointed to help with the consultation process that those who participate in the 30-day process may have significant liability by virtue of participating.

“There’s no foundation to it as a matter of law,” he said.

White has continually stated that council’s May 13 decision to tear down the dams this year, then rebuild them next year, went in a different direction than what had been talked about up until then and could potentially be the riskiest path to take in terms of the health of the river.

He said the Snuneymuxw continues to be concerned about the Chase River fishery and the First Nation plans to meet with the provincial and federal governments to express those concerns.

“We understand that something has to be done,” said White. “I’m very disappointed that the city didn’t take this opportunity to find a collaborative pathway.”

Katherine Gordon, the facilitator appointed to help with the 30-day consultation period, said in an e-mailed response that she was appointed jointly by the Snuneymuxw and the city with the goal of assisting the parties to work toward a collaborative outcome and since the Snuneymuxw has withdrawn, she is also standing down.

“I remain available to the parties to assist should they decide to continue discussions at a future date,” she wrote.

Mayor John Ruttan said the city has spent more than $600,000 in the past nine months to research the options available and it is at least three times more expensive to fix the old dams than to re-establish the river.

“Every engineering report we’ve had has said that’s not practical and is the most expensive option,” he said. “[White’s] expectation seems to be we would do nine months of work in 30 days and come up with a different conclusion.”

As for the liability issue, Ruttan said he believes staff were explaining that when work to mitigate the safety risk paused for this consultation, the liability issues remained and in fact increased.

“The liability grows with every day we sit back and don’t proceed with a plan of action,” he said. “We’re in a position where we just have to do something.”

Ruttan said council has yet to decide what to do now.

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

Just Posted

Protesters in Nanaimo call for greater protection of old-growth forests

Extinction Rebellion organized rally at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday afternoon

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Nanaimo River Road ‘hotspot’ for theft from vehicles, says RCMP

Over dozen reports of theft in past month, say Nanaimo RCMP, many victims were headed to backcountry

Process begins to try to get Lantzville lookout trail authorized

Regional District of Nanaimo staff will report back to parks and trails committee

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Supportive housing plan unbalanced

Letter writer worries crime and social disorder will increase from Newcastle area to south end

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Island Health warning of spike in overdoses in Nanaimo area

Substance users advised to visit overdose prevention site on Wesley Street in Nanaimo

Do-over vote has similar result, 280-unit development in Lantzville going to public hearing

Mayor’s motion to rescind Clark/Medd application’s second reading fails 3-2

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

Most Read