Failure to rebuild will destroy park

NANAIMO – Re: Council unmoved on dam destruction despite impassioned speakers, June 13.

To the Editor,

Re: Council unmoved on dam destruction despite impassioned speakers, June 13.

It’s disappointing that the Nanaimo mayor and four councillors voted to tear down the dams this summer without at least taking the time to present the alternate plan, proposed by Coun. Fred Pattje, to the provincial Dam Safety Branch for consideration.

Instead the dams will be removed without any plan in place for their proposed replacement.

Council was presented with a plan to mitigate the risks, replace the dams for a reasonable fixed price and promised the help of Nanaimo-North NDP Cowichan MLA Doug Routley.

Not interested.

City staff and council haven’t done their homework, consulted with the Snuneymuxw First Nation, the DFO or Dam Safety Branch.

There are no guarantees once the dams are removed that there will be any approval to rebuild them. If the dams are removed this year, the chances of a rebuild are slim to none.

This is also the worst possible option for the Chase River fishery. Leaving two mud holes over winter will increase the likelihood of sediment destroying the spawning beds downstream. This is a recipe for huge budget over-runs.

To protect the fishery, the work of removing the dams and then either replacing them or re-naturalizing, needs to be completed in the dry months.

The dams are the summer vacation spot for many under-privileged kids in the south end of Nanaimo whose parents can’t afford or aren’t able to drive them to other swimming locations like Nanaimo River, Westwood Lake or the beaches in the north end. They’re the most important reason to keep the lakes in the park.

This is reminiscent of the Vancouver Island Convention Centre fiasco where staff and council moved forward with construction and then realized the project wasn’t eligible for federal funding once construction had begun.

Staff and council need to develop a plan and seek the approval of Snuneymuxw, the provincial and federal governments before moving forward.

They need to practise due diligence.

Paul Manly