Monday, July 27, 2015

What Changed Councillors Colliery Dams Stance?

What Pressure Came To Bear?

The apparent, dare I say 'flip' of the five councillors who have been defying enormous pressure to capitulate seemed to come suddenly and with little warning.

During the last election six of our elected officials promised to re-examine the Colliery Dam Debacle with Mayor McKay declaring the dams were just fine. He soon had a change of opinion once winning a seat in the 'big chair' leaving five councillors attempting to fulfil their promises to the electorate. The culmination of their efforts was seen at the July 20 council meeting with an eleventh hour decision to avoid the heavy hand of senior government officials. Officials who are now demanding Nanaimo taxpayers fork out millions of dollars on a problem yet to be proven to exist.

Not this Council's making

The current Colliery Dams Debacle can be laid squarely at the feet of the previous Council under the direction of Mayor Ruttan. In short, this council has been tasked with dealing with a nearly untenable situation which is not of their making. The last election has freed Mayor Ruttan and Councillors Greves, Anderson, Johnstone and Pattje from accountability for the part they played in this whole dam mess. Councillors Kipp, Bestwick, Brennan and now-Mayor McKay are also culpable in the mess we have found ourselves in.

The Council led by John Ruttan originally agreed to remove the dams based on information supplied to them by city staff behind closed doors in 2012.  Only when information came forward from the public challenging the outrageously high costs being presented to Council did they decide to take another look at the whole process. Anyone following this whole damn dam saga is well aware of all the twists and turns along the way, during which time that City Council including those now sitting on this new council, pretty much sat on their hands and allowed the process to bring us to where we are today.

That Council consisting of Ruttan, Greves, Brennan, Bestwick, Kipp, Johnstone, Pattje, Anderson and McKay seemed to buy into the seismic calamity, 150 deaths scenario presented with all the authority a P Eng stamp adds to a document. All the time ignoring members of the public who simply saw the whole thing as one huge mistake. One possible explanation was that council's complete inability to apply any critical thinking to the scenario city staff was laying out before them. Either that, or a totally blind faith in whatever staff was telling them. Either way, what they were supporting was later proven to be inaccurate after proper study had been done.

The mess that this previous council left to be dealt with by our current council is something they should be remembered for.

This Council's making

This council has apparently bought into the latest scenario presented with all the authority of a P Eng stamp. This time a seismic event is not the bogeyman but rather a flood of either biblical or mythical proportions. It should be noted that even though a P Eng stamp is hauled out as the authority to spend $5 million tax dollars, those same engineers time and again say in those reports that time and budget constraints stopped them from doing full investigations.

One very simple point: ask Golder Associates what is the geometry of the dam and whether it is a gravity or earthen dam? You would think these two questions would need answering as the basis for all the conclusions as to how the dams would perform in a highly unlikely flooding event. Yet, they can't answer either of those questions. Why? Because their studies are incomplete.

You might also ask why they are relying on calculations for the spillway flow rates when actually measuring the flow is the only method to obtain accurate data. Why have they relied on calculations rather than accurate measurements? Why did city staff not insist on finding the accurate capacity of the spillway, as that is key to the need to do the auxiliary spillway.

The $8,000,000.00 Question

Why are city staff and now this Council so willing to set fire to millions of tax dollars to solve a problem that arguably has not been proven to exist?  Some might say it is because a senior government is 'making' them do it. That is nonsense, the senior government is making their call based on information supplied to them by the City of Nanaimo. That is where the buck needs to stop for this whole damn, dam debacle.



  1. And now we have councillor Fuller saying he had inside information that the Water Comptoller was going to cancel our water licence and this is the reason he changed his position. I say that is a convenient excuse and not the real reason why five councillors flipped. These councillors have consistently fumbled and bumbled their way through this whole "new council" stage of this boondoggle by insisting that they were qualified to get involved in the actual details of remediation rather than putting in a process that they could have confidence in any conclusions arrived at. This could have been done by appointing a select committee of experts several months ago, but they are just now still fumbling around in a disorganized attempt at appointing a select committee "after" having caved in a authorized remediation. Oh well they are being consistent anyway. Now not only do they have the cart in front of the horse they are pushing the horse backwards.
    Cliff Marcil

    1. Charlotte Bridden28 July 2015 at 15:40

      I find this change puzzling too. " Fumbling and Bumbling" isn't a fair statement altogether though. The new councillors like Hong, Yoachim, and Fuller stood out because they asked questions we all wanted answers for and they held the hard line on taxes following the examples of Bestwick and Kipp. If we can get Dr. Corfield "quarterbacking" we just might get somewhere with this Colliery Dam Park debacle.


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