Second rate might suffice

It seems as though there was much more to talk about in regards to the removal of the Colliery dams.

It seems as though there was much more to talk about in regards to the removal of the Colliery dams.

A 30-day consultation period between the City of Nanaimo and Snuneymuxw First Nation aimed to review council’s decision to remove and then rebuild the century-old dams at a later date. Snuneymuxw was concerned about the impact the rebuild would have on the fishery on the Chase River.

But one issue that’s come up during those discussions is whether it’s necessary to build the best dam possible – or whether second-best is a viable alternative.

City officials claim that a dam built to the highest standards would withstand an earthquake, whereas the second-best dam is likely to crack during a shaker and requires annual maintenance.

It’s a lot of speculation on what would happen during an earthquake – the likes of which no one has seen on the West Coast for several hundred years. There’s no assurances that the second-rate dam would only crack – or that the best dam wouldn’t burst just as easily.

As taxpayers struggle to afford the costs of city hall, and other cities around the world begin to declare bankruptcy after decades of spending beyond their means, second-best options are worth considering – or at least discussing.

Perhaps Italian marble isn’t the best choice for a countertop; maybe you can only afford laminate. That’s not to say that building a kitchen is the same as building a dam. Lives and property downstream from the structure depend on it being sound.

A vocal group of people want the dams rebuilt whatever the cost. Perhaps they’ll have more success convincing those silently opposed to spending the money on reconstruction if the cost wasn’t so exorbitant.

A second-rate dam might not be the solution, but it’s one that wouldn’t hurt taking time to consider.