Process excludes right to be heard

NANAIMO – Re: City staff highlight risk from dam breach, June 20.

To the Editor,

Re: City staff highlight risk from dam breach, June 20.

I can appreciate why city staff are approaching the media regarding the Colliery Dam Park dams.

Based on delegations to city council and letters to editors, it is obvious residents are more than unhappy with the decision to remove the historical dams.

It is not only the loss of the dams at the root of the discontent. It is the lack of two-way consultation.

A year or more ago, when it became evident the dams posed a risk, there was no community consultation or engagement. Had the community been engaged so as to consider more alternatives, and the same decision was ultimately arrived at, the city would have likely seen a far reduced outcry from the community.

Why? Because people would have felt heard or included in the process. Not so in this process.

Suddenly the dams became a huge emergency and the city has rushed to demolish them, ignoring any viable alternatives.

It is an irony the anger arising from this lack of consultation has led to ever-intensifying conflict that has been emotionally damaging and may lead to physical injury – all to avoid the potential for injury.

It is another irony that Snuneymuxw First Nation seems more willing to engage the wider community about the future of the dams than the city.

Maybe this is because for more than a century they have largely been ignored and have watched everything precious to them being taken away.

Now the rest of us can better understand what they have experienced.

Ian Gartshore