Council’s second look at two dams must include a hold on removal

NANAIMO – Re: Opposition forces council to explore Colliery options, Dec. 20.

To the Editor,

Re: Opposition forces council to explore Colliery options, Dec. 20.

As a spokesperson advocating for the Colliery Dam Park, I was gratified that city council decided to pass a motion exploring all options to maintain the park with its lakes, while ensuring the safety of our citizens.

Staff will review information that was presented by the Save the Colliery Dams Representatives. It is necessary to point out that almost all of this information brought forward by independent engineer Lorne Gale, and engineering technologist Geraldine Collins, is taken from the 2002 study on the spillways and the 2010 seismic study.

The recommendations to bring the dam structures to a standard that could satisfy the Dam Safety Branch were explained in each study.

At this time city staff and the Dam Safety Board have said that the dams are stable and there are adequate measures in place while a permanent fix is being put in place. Furthermore, the water could be drained in a relatively short period of time if there was a need to, using siphons and pumps.

City staff asked council to approve a motion to explore the costs for removal and replacement of the dams. While this was a step forward, our group thought exploring rehabilitation of the dams would be more cost effective, so we asked council to designate funds to the development of conceptual solutions and their cost estimates for the rehabilitation of the dams.

We also asked that no further plans for deconstruction proceed until further information was presented to council.

After much discussion, council decided to understand all options and costs which will require a more extensive report. We are aware that options to rehabilitate the dams to a safe standard do exist and that we consider this avenue to be the most efficient and cost effective.

Council, however, did not recommend that deconstruction of the dams be put on hold and this remains problematic.

It is our goal – and we have asked – to be included in this process of exploring options.

A contractor within our group, who has dam building experience, has stated we are not dealing with the largest bodies of water. He calls them puddles, and this is a relatively small engineering endeavour.

It’s just common sense that this issue can be dealt with appropriately. We are certain, with the information we have presented to council, a feasible and workable solution can be found that will allow us to keep our park and its lakes for future generations, while securing safety for our community.

Jeff Solomon


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