Colliery Dams society watching

Fri. Aug. 2/13

The Colliery Dams Preservation Society has approximately $7,500 cash on hand and is waiting and watching before deciding what its next steps will be.

The City of Nanaimo is currently in the midst of a 30-day consultation period with Snuneymuxw First Nations to attempt to reach a consensus on how to move forward with the controversial Colliery dams issue.

The middle and lower Colliery dams are over 100 years old each and are considered a fixture in the Harewood neighbourhood.

Contained within the structures are two lakes that are loved by many residents.

However, the dams have also been flagged by the B.C. Dam Safety Section as a serious threat to the surrounding community.

The city commissioned two studies to review options to address the safety risk of the dams following an angry public response in opposition to the original proposal to remove the structures.

In May, council voted to remove the dams this year and build replacements in 2014, but that decision was also stalled once consultations with SFN began.

The CDPS has meanwhile been raising funds and planning its next move. The group has hired lawyer Danelle Lambert to assist them going forward. Lambert said she and her clients are waiting to see what the outcome of the consultation process with SFN will be. "The Dam Safety Branch indicated that the City of Nanaimo applied to replace the Dams in May 2013," she said in an email to the Daily News. "It is my understanding that the Dam Safety Branch won't make a decision until after the 30-day consultation period has ended.

As such, the earliest a decision would be made would be after August 8, 2013. "If the city's application to replace the Dams is granted, my clients may wish to investigate the feasibility of launching an appeal to the Environmental Appeal Board. "My clients would also likely investigate whether any other legal remedies might be available if or when the city decides to move forward with plans to replace the Dams."

When asked what other options might be open to the group, Lambert replied: "We're not done investigating that at this point."

Mayor John Ruttan said consultants are reviewing the material prepared for the city in an attempt to find cost savings in proposals for the dams.

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