Colliery dams - Engineering costs up

Mon. Feb. 24/14

Nanaimo city staff members say engineering work being completed for the Colliery dams project is expected to climb $70,000 past the upper range of previous cost estimates.

In a report to council Monday, community services general manager Tom Hickey said the city has been told by Golder Associates Ltd. that developing remediation options for the lower Colliery dam as well as other work connected to that work will climb to $470,000, up from the previous top estimate of $400,000.

The city has already paid the firm $200,000 as of early February. The costs are in addition to the hundreds of thousands that have already been spent on studies and other work related to the dams, estimated to be over $850,000.

However, the city also says it has been told by the B.C. Dam Safety Section that short-term remediation work on the dams may not be required this year, contrary to previous statements offered by the provincial agency.

A city-appointed technical committee is overseeing the engineers' work and will eventually be tasked with presenting a recommendation on how to proceed on the project.

Engineers recently wrapped up four days of test-drilling on the lower dam to gather materials to determine the true condition on the structure.

The spokeswoman for the technical committee says the group expects a engineers to provide them with a detailed update on some of their findings by early March. However, members of the committee have not committed to releasing the findings at that time. The committee has so far also declined to hold meetings open to the public.

The technical committee - made up of representatives from the city, Snuneymuxw First Nation and the citizens' group Colliery Dams Preservation Society - aims to have a permanent solution to upgrade the Colliery dams to meet current safety requirements by this year.

Previously, the city had been told that if upgrades to the dams were not completed by 2014, short-term structural work on the dams may be necessary this year as a stop-gap measure.

However, Hickey says in his report, "staff has been advised by the Dam Safety Section that (short-term work) will not be required."

The city had originally intended to remove the structures and fill in the area instead, at an estimated total cost of $7 million.

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