The issue surrounding the removal of two dams at Colliery Dam Park is just one more instance where Nanaimo’s city council has taken a submissive approach to the demands of senior levels of government.
A provincial assessment declared the two dams unsafe in the event of an earthquake or extreme rainfall, and, under the Water Act, the city would be held libel should any damage result in a breach of either dam.
But council’s quick decision to remove the dams and drain the lakes was made without public consultation, and options that could have been pursued were not.
Submitting to senior level government demands and timelines is becoming a familiar pattern with this council.
It was told to build a $72-million water treatment plant and like a good servant did not question authority. This council has not yet advocated for Nanaimo citizens on the proposed idea to lease the Nanaimo Boat-Basin to private interests, and it hasn’t stepped up to the plate to assure citizens that it will do what it can to protect parks like Pioneer Forest and Linley Valley from development. Now another park, Colliery Dam Park, will soon be affected by council’s apparent lack of interest in its citizens’ concerns.
And remember the low-barrier housing issue? The province’s Treasury Board hung city council out to dry.
What’s more, it’s beginning to get expensive with each demand by the province or federal government. It will cost about $7 million to remove the dams, all of it paid for by Nanaimo residents, and the cost of the water treatment plant falls largely on Nanaimo taxpayers.
There are social costs as well. Colliery Dam Park is a much-loved jewel in the south end, as much as the boat basin is to all Nanaimo residents or Pioneer Park is to north enders.
Council has done a poor job advocating for its citizens, and the casualties are beginning to add up.