Scare tactics no way to deal with dams

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

To the Editor,

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

After more than eight months of learning more about dams than I ever wanted to and after meeting with various interested citizens, city staff and council, I reiterate it was never suggested  nothing should be done to upgrade the Colliery Dam Park dams.

What has been unacceptable is the scare tactics and flippant decisions by the city, which fails to talk about the fact a suspect inundation study of the dams was completed a couple of years ago, which set the dams up for a higher level of classification by the provincial Dam Safety Branch.

On the other hand, that other dam in Nanaimo – Westwood Lake – was not subject to an inundation study at all and as far as I have been told, there isn’t a plan to do one within the next few years.

Westwood Lake therefore is classified at a lower level of risk than Colliery dams.

I also noticed every time the city talks about the risk to human life, the numbers keep going up – now it is 130. The problem with believing anything the city staff have to say, is that they have said different things at different times.

They have indicated in past talks that “mitigation of the risk” would be acceptable to the dam safety branch and then the message changed to “removal of all the water is the only acceptable mitigation to the Dam Safety Branch.”

What happened between the first acceptable approach and the second?

Mitigation means lowering the risk, not removing the risk completely. That is why it is necessary to back up and ensure a transparent, collaborative process is put in place to make sure Snuneymuxw First Nation, interested stakeholders and residents fully understand the impacts of any decisions ultimately made by the city.

When we mess with mother nature we better be sure we know what we are doing. The habitat and surrounding environment has been developing on its own for almost 100 years.

Let’s fully understand the ramifications of any options being considered.

In the meantime, even though the sky is falling, there is no emergency siren installed at the dams and children and families continue to fish and swim as they have done for years.

Judy Forbister

Nanaimo