Colliery Dam Park and Nanaimo Lakes Road non park uses

At last Monday’s Nanaimo council meeting councillors voted to get public feedback on non-park uses for the Nanaimo Lakes Road property next to Colliery Dam Park. The meeting was chaired by Councillor Fuller as Mayor McKay was absent along with councillors Thorpe and Pratt who were possibly attending the UBCM event in Victoria.  A detailed report was presented by staff and some discussion followed. Here are some of the highlights from the evening:

The grey area shown on the map below is 97 hectares (240 acres) that became property of the City of Nanaimo in 2004 when the Greater Nanaimo Water District disbanded.

Colliery Dam Park and Nanaimo Lakes Road Site for Search and Rescue
Colliery Dam Park and Nanaimo Lakes Road Site for Search and Rescue near Res No1

In 2010, Nanaimo council approved a 14 million liter water reservoir in the west corner of Colliery dam Park adjacent to Nanaimo Lakes Road and the Nanaimo Parkway.

At the same time Council approved consideration of the area as parkland to compensate for the loss of parkland in Colliery Dam Park.

There are some existing buildings on the site such as Parks Operations, an animal shelter, pump station and a non-functioning fish hatchery. Since 2011 a few groups have expressed interest in using the land.

In May 2016, the Search and Rescue asked if they could build a facility on the site near the Park Operations building.

In January 2014 a study was completed on the biophysical inventory and this included red and blue listed species such as the Townsend’s big-eared bat, Northern pygmy-owl, Northern red-legged frog, and the Northern alligator lizard.

In April 2014 there was an archaeological study completed and the report included rock art, culturally modified trees, mining activity, lithic scatter and/or cache pits.

Dam reservoir Number One which currently holds over 30,000 cubic meters of water is in need of a flood study. The dam could be decommissioned and re-aligned with the Chase River.

The fish hatchery was closed in 2013 because there was no fresh water available. This hatchery was run by VIU as part of their aquaculture program.

Council discussion:

Bestwick: …we do a lot of consulting [getting impatient]….

Brennan: …I share Bestwick’s concerns – where does Search and Rescue want to go? Inside the compound?…What about consulting with the public?…

CAO: …we can consult with the public now…

Brennan: Could that be next week?…What about the finished report?

Yoachim: This is exciting times…I have some concerns…about the reservoir…it is a provincial issue…and the dams…

Kipp: …I have concerns about the dams…and the river…water…down-stream flooding [remember?]…provincial dams…safety…SFN are they involved?…the Search and Rescue looked at the site in 2006…then there was the flood issue…We need to find them a good home [a better home]…

Hong: …don’t promise too much…dam safety branch…it’s up in the air…I have concerns…we have lots of stuff more important…What about other projects…we have several projects that we need SFN approval on…Are we bumping projects?…There is a process here…What about Newcastle Island and Maffeo Sutton Park…Where are we putting our resources…Let’s stay on track people!….

Bestwick: …Let us identify non park uses…new buildings…we have other options…I don’t want to be sitting here next September and talking about Search and Rescue…If we can’t find them a home now then let’s find another place…

Brennan: …We made a motion subject to SFN plan…let’s get our events right…give it a priority …Search and Rescue needs to be pushed forward…

CAO: In the spring we did a projects priority…There will be consequences to changing the land use to the surrounding area…

Fuller: I made a motion…share the building with the City …they are not talking about building a major building…that’s what I heard…they don’t want a facility for themselves…We are running out of time! …Their donors want the design in 2016…GIVE me a phone and I will call SFN and ask them…we are making this difficult…We promised to do something…

CAO: …What was the motion??

Fuller:…there was a motion at the August 8th meeting …by me…work with Search and Rescue…

Bestwick: …point of order…get back to business…

After the dust settled on what the original motion was everyone was back on the same page.

In the end, everyone on council voted in favour of spending $12,000 on a public  consultation. It is possible a public hearing on Nanaimo Lakes Road land use could happen in October.