Dam’s social importance not being considered

NANAIMO: Re: City plans to remove two century-old dams, Nov. 1.

To the Editor,

Re: City plans to remove two century-old dams, Nov. 1.

After reading the Seismic Hazard Assessment Study by EBA Engineers (2010) and the Chase River Dam Breach Flood Inundation Study by Associated Engineering (2012), there seems to be a lot of incongruities to what we have been told by city representatives regarding options for the Colliery Dam Park lakes.

This has been a frustrating process. Initially we were told that the reason they decided on destroying the dams was the difference in cost to upgrade versus removing. Then it changed to upgrading and replacing weren’t an option (couldn’t be done).  I was told by city staff at the open house Nov. 5 they didn’t know if there was bedrock and if there was, whether it is fragmented.

So, because this is definitely not my field of study, and there has been no open and inclusive consultation with elected officials and city staff, this is what I have pieced together based on the studies available on the city website.

In 2010 the seismic study indicated that there was serious concerns regarding the safety of the dams and three options were presented: 1. Remove dams;  2. Upgrade (with the need to inspect should there be an earthquake); and  3. Replace.

Then the Chase River Flood study was conducted and published this September. It broke down in some detail regarding a potential earthquake or extreme flood situation with what is known or not known about the inner construction of the dams.  It also detailed the worst scenario if such an event were to happen if nothing is done.

Again, the options were listed, stating removal of the dams was less costly and would completely remove all risk. It also stated the second option might want to be explored considering social and environmental considerations. This last sentence is not being acknowledged by city council and staff. This is the piece that is being missed and we need to be included in the discussion, not told misinformation.

From the findings of the study it is important to look after it. We all want to make sure that the people living downstream can go to bed at night feeling that they are safe. It states very clearly in the study this can be accomplished with an upgrade.

Cost is relative. We all know how ridiculous the costs for the Vancouver Island Conference Centre were/are, and who uses the cruise ship terminal? Colliery Dam Park serves our community and our citizens so much more than many other costly city projects.

We are holding a public meeting to insist that city council include us in the decision making and that they stick to what is in the study.  It will be held Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. in the John Barsby Secondary School multipurpose room. For more information please e-mail savecollierydam@gmail.com.

Roblyn Hunter