Closed Doors and Colliery Dams

Two important motions will be on the agenda at the Nanaimo Council meeting Monday, February 2nd:

  • COW meetings
  • Colliery Dams

Councillor Fuller has long been a proponent of keeping Council meetings and COW meetings public and televised. Preserving Colliery Dams is another topic Fuller is passionate about. It is an unfortunate coincidence that both of these topics are taking place when he won’t be there. Let’s hope that the remaining councillors pick up the torch in honour of Councillor Fuller.

All meetings should be recorded and available for viewing on the City’s website. $200 million of your tax dollars is being spent every year by the City of Nanaimo. One would think that the Mayor and Council would want to protect themselves from accusations of wrongdoing.

Colliery Dams
The Dam Safety Section (DSS) has lowered the failure consequence classification for both the middle and lower Colliery Dams.

  • Middle Chase River Dam – high
  • Lower Chase River Dam – very high

The City has been asked by DSS to prepare a revised remediation plan by  February 27, 2015. Two remediation options for the Colliery Dams are:

  • building a labyrinth spillway (~ $8.1 million)
  • overtopping (~ $7.3 million)

It looks like the City favours the labyrinth spillway option which would cost approximately $8.1 million.

The spillway entrance is proposed to be located about 10 meters to the south of the existing spillway. This would be an open channel spillway of 10 meters wide and 6 meters deep with 10 meter sides.

Has anyone given the heritage status of the Colliery Dams any consideration in the process?

Currently, the City spends approximately $250,000 a year monitoring nine city dams which include the middle and lower Colliery Dams. Recently, a  report was completed on water distribution, capacity of the spillway, and drainage to Harewood Creek. The report can be seen on the City’s website.

The DSS is located on Labieux Road in Nanaimo. Are they functioning at arms length from projects in Nanaimo?

Does the Colliery Dam remediation reek of a multi-million dollar public works project to benefit the concrete and consultant kings of the world? To date, consultants’ fees for the Colliery Dams reports have cost Nanaimo taxpayers approximately $2.5 million.

******** Update: February 3, 2015******

At last night’s Nanaimo council meeting a motion was made by Councillor Pratt to have the COW meetings remain on Monday nights and have the agendas available earlier so everyone could better prepare for the meetings. This voted passed.  Three Councillors opposed: Hong, Kipp, and Bestwick.

City staff to work out the details on how advanced agendas can be achieved.

Discussion on the topic:

Hong: …who watches Shaw TV… my parents couldn’t get the election results…they are so slow…people can go to Nanaimo Info Blog the next day and find out what went on….

Bestwick: …why don’t we put a table in the middle…we need to get back to a committee style meeting [sit around and whisper in each other’s ear]….this is too formal…it’s like having two council meetings… it is not working….

Kipp:…what is the big deal people can watch it later…people probably flip channels…[after Kipp’s motion didn’t pass at question period]… I will bring this back in 6 months….

Two presentations by the public in support of televised and recorded COW meetings.

Long time council watcher made a flip flop during question period and questioned what was the big deal about having the meetings broadcast live on Shaw TV.

Colliery Dams Vote:
Seven speakers on the topic. Three speakers from the civilian technical team. All spoke of inadequate information such as spillway size and drainage.

Councillor Yoachim raised a motion for work on the dams not to proceed, consult with stakeholders and amend the schedule for the Dam Safety Section.

Yoachim’s motion passed with all in favour but one, Councillor Brennan opposed.