Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Colliery Dam Removal Cancelled

Tender To Remove Dams Cancelled

After hearing from over 30 delegates at the Special City Council Meeting of Aug.7, your city council voted to cancel the Tender to remove the Colliery Dams.

They also decided to set aside $2.5 million to a special reserve to be used in the future for work associated with the risk mitigation for Colliery Dams.

They further agreed to bring back a short term risk mitigation plan at the first available opportunity and continue to engage SFN and the public to adopt a new strategy do deal with the long term mitigation of risks associated with the dams.

Condition Of Middle Dam

One of the more informative delegations was Mr. Sean Williams who is a retired Navy clearance diver and marine biologist. For those not familiar a clearance diver basically assesses the strength of structures and determines how much explosives it will take to destroy them.

Mr. Williams was able to detect the presence of metal throughout the middle dam (earlier engineer reports presumed there was none), both in the form of very thick rebar and I-beams. He further determined that the dam is seated directly on bedrock and below the surface the concrete is still in very good shape. There is some degradation of the cement above the water line where it is exposed to the air, but that is normal.

As an experienced biologist, Mr. Williams believes that the unique eco-system these two dams present could become an invaluable research aid and could in time contribute to returning Coho stocks in the Chase River. This could be possible as the two ponds the dams create are a very rich system that serves several beneficial purposes. One is the provision of an area where dangerous metals in sediment can settle out and not continue downstream and the other is by providing a rich source of nutrients which wash over the dam and provide for the fish downstream.

Earthquake Dam Failure Deaths

Jeff Solomon, official/unofficial head of the Colliery Dams Park Preservation Society shared a report which says there has been 8 lives lost worldwide from a failed dam due to an earthquake since record keeping started in 1900.

A Gargantuan Effort By All

Although a final decision has not been reached on the way the dams will be dealt with, it is a certainty that without a huge community effort the dams would have been destroyed, which would ruin the park they create. 

Jeff Solomon and the people who rallied around CDPPS are the ones who have fought the good fight from last November researching and gathering a mountain of information which caused the city to take a second look at their Oct. 2012 decision to remove the dams.

They have kept up their efforts which finally resulted in the city agreeing to rebuild the dams. An agreement that may not have been made in good faith.

Finally at the eleventh hour Chief White of the SFN intervened on the very night, council would have agreed to award the tender to remove the dams. His intervention resulted in the 30 day reevaluation period which brought Ms Katherine Gordon into the mix, filling the role of facilitator which finally has seen the SFN and the city of Nanaimo agree to the decision made at this council meeting.

Could Have Been Avoided

Had city staff advised city council to act upon a recommendation in the 2010 Seismic Assessment report the city commissioned from an engineering firm, both of these dams could have been rehabilitated to a 1:3000 year standard for a cost of about $3 million.

We are now in the process of spending nearly that to simply deal with a short term mitigation and who knows how many more endless studies.

Councillor Pattje noted that the 'buck stops with Council' and that city staff had nothing to do with this whole dam debacle and share no responsibility in this matter.

A point that needs to be remembered come next election time.  Make no mistake if it had been left to Councillors Brennan, Greves, Johnstone, Anderson and Mayor Ruttan, the tender to remove would have been awarded and the dams destroyed by now.


1 comment:

  1. A childhood memory and beautiful area has been saved! Thankyou to those who fought in the community! Can't believe how much my home town has grown and it needs to slow down, couldn't believe my ears when I heard about the dams.


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