Thursday, March 26, 2015

Colliery Dams Delegation March 16/15 'Opinions'

Note: email subscribers may have to visit Nanaimo Info Blog to view this video.

Lack of public scrutiny of 'Professional Opinions'

I appeared before Council on March 16 and attempted to make the point that at one time we had an 'opinion' with a P Eng. stamp attached claiming 150 people could die as the dams failed catastrophically in a seismic event. We spent about $1,000,000.00 to get that professional opinion under the direction of city staff. That process was never subject to public scrutiny.

We have now spent another $1,500,000.00 on another study which has disproved the first conclusion about seismic failure and loss of life. This study, complete with a P Eng stamp affixed now claims we need to spend upwards of $8 million to deal with a possible overtopping event.

The similarities of these two processes is the complete lack of public scrutiny of a city staff directed process. The result is a complete lack of confidence in the findings of either process.

As I stated before council " I certainly hope we can get a refund for the first conclusion". Perhaps a third, totally open process will result in us being able to get a refund for the second conclusion as well.

City Hall has expended all of it's 'credibility capital' on this file.

Why the URGENCY?

When we were being told as many as 150 lives could be lost in a sudden seismic event which could cause the dams to fail in less than 4 minutes, there was the sense of urgency that we needed to get something done NOW.

Well, it turns out that whole seismic scenario was not supported by the facts, the second study proved that detail. The new scenario requiring our concern and expending of millions of tax dollars involves the possibility a huge rain event would cause the dams to overtop, wash away tons of rock and fill which would expose the dam wall, which would then fail.

Even if all of those 'could happen' events did in fact happen, there would be sufficient warning to evacuate everyone from harms way. Now the sense of urgency has been eliminated, so why are city staff and some city councillors so hell-bent on spending as much as $8 million to solve a problem that may not actually exist?

There seems to be a pretty cavalier attitude on the part of some councillors as to how much scrutiny they should give to this issue which may in fact not be an issue at all.

This is hardly the time to let DSB bully Nanaimo taxpayers into spending $8 million on an opinion of one P Eng that may be no more valid than the opinion of the first P Eng.


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