Colliery Dams was on the agenda for the Monday July 20th Nanaimo council meeting. There were 4 delegations who came to speak.
Councillor Yoachim raised his motion for the dams which was legally drafted and all encompassing. Here are the highlights of the motion:
- select the Lower Dam remediation option: Auxiliary Spillway (Labyrinth/Box Culvert, Open Channel alternative)
- prepare a design report and construction plan for the Auxiliary Spillway on or before July 24, 2015
- prepare a conceptual plan for the Middle Colliery Dam for potential use once the Lower Dam remediation is complete
- develop Terms of Reference for a tendering process for the Auxiliary spillway to be awarded by September 1, 2015
- re-establish the Technical Committee as a Select Committee
- have an independent investigation and report on the Colliery Dam process from start to finish
- send a letter to the Provincial government outlining concerns with the process
- stop all legal proceedings before the Environmental Appeal Board
Four people spoke about their concerns about all of the unanswered questions around Colliery Dams. MLA Routley spoke about his concerns that the Colliery Dams debacle was dividing council and the community and further work could be done with the province.
Councillor Brennan started off by saying she didn’t know how to properly address Routley. Next she told him he had incorrect facts. Brennan claimed that the Colliery Dams remediation cost was not originally estimated at $30 million. Was she saying that the Nanaimo Daily News got their facts wrong as well? Then Brennan invited Routley to have a meeting with herself and a city staff member at which time the “facts could be clarified.” MLA Routley acknowledged a difference in opinion.
No other councillors nor the Mayor had any questions or comments. Councillors Yoachim and Bestwick thanked MLA Routley for his time coming to the meeting.
Councillor Brennan made a motion to have a 15 minute break so all councillors could look at Yoachim’s motion, as it was the first time they were seeing this “very long motion full of legal speak.”
After the break, the meeting resumed. Councillor Yoachim exited the meeting several times as did other councillors and staff. Apparently, they were ironing out the details of the motion.
A dysfunctional council no more?
The Nanaimo Mayor hired The Integrity Group run by Vancouver lawyer Heather MacKenzie for $50,000 to help council get along. According to the News Bulletin, the Mayor commented that the division and behaviour is much worse than most councils, morale is at an “all time low” at City Hall and the “business of the city is not getting done.”
Ever since the election last year, the Nanaimo Council was in a stalemate position about the Colliery Dams. Five councillors would not agree with the other three and the mayor on what to do.
The threat was that if council didn’t fix the dams Nanaimo would be fined a $1 million a day by the province.
Previously, the five councillors had complained that the Mayor and three councillors were not interested in going to talk to the provincial government. The five councillors spoke of the whole process as being a complete sham.
Why didn’t the entire council meet with the provincial government and ask for financial help? Only the five councillors met with the Deputy Minister who oversees the Dam Safety Section. Mayor McKay would not give his endorsement or participate in the meeting.
Council votes in harmony
At approximately 10:30pm Yoachim’s motion was raised again and it passed unanimously. All eight councillors and the mayor voted in favour of building the auxiliary spillway for approximately $5 million.
It was interesting to observe how happy Nanaimo Council was at the end of the meeting. It was as if everyone had won the lottery. Councillor Bestwick, who was attending via phone link, commented “I don’t want to hold up the party” when he voted yes along with everyone else.
At question period a regular council watcher, who at previous meetings repeated a request to investigate the drain plugged with concrete, was laughing and joking with the Mayor.
BC Government Exaction
If the province is insisting that the dams be fixed then why will they not help out the taxpayers of Nanaimo?
Councillor Brennan commented we own it so we fix it. If that is the case why were there no efforts to maintain Colliery Dams in the first place? Why such a waste of taxpayers money? Is someone looking for a lucrative contract?
This sounds like the last council when they said “sorry there is nothing we can do” we have to sell Nanaimo’s harbour.
It will be very interesting to see if the “Colliery Dams political theatre” is repeated with the upcoming incinerator planned for Duke Point.