July Update from Jeff and Roblyn - July 24, 2013

Chief Doug White has insisted on extreme caution in the planning process regarding the Colliery Dams. One of his main concerns is the impact any changes to the dams would have on their treaty rights fishery. We agree with the Chief White's concern and we support his goal of protecting this very important fishery habitat.

Prior to the 30 day reprieve for tender for removal of the dams, the City of Nanaimo contracted to remove fish fry from the Chase River as a precaution should the removal of the dams kill the fish. The City’s obvious lack of confidence in the safety for the fish after the proposed dam removal is alarming. The City’s lack of consultation with Snuneymuxw First Nation about the potential harm to the fisheries ignores the treaty rights of the SFN and is unacceptable.

The Chase River has traditionally been a prolific fish-bearing river and many believe that the dams have helped provide a beneficial environment for the fish. Because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to undo damage done to a river system, it is crucial to ensure that any change to the system is done so with extreme care and caution.

We believe that while repairs to the dams are being engineered, leaving the dams in place for the winter is important for mitigating the risk to the fishery as well as for the risk of flooding downstream. The predicted changes to our climate include summers with less rainfall and winters with reduced snow packs. This means a drier climate where stored water will become desirable and necessary.

We have all been fortunate to enjoy the Colliery Dam lakes and the benefits they provide, but to assume that these dams are for recreation only is not only short sighted, it is incorrect. Benefits to the fishery, to flood mitigation, and to expected future water-storage needs are important factors we cannot underestimate. We must take the time now to thoroughly assess all the options regarding the Colliery Dams and the far-reaching effects these options will have before we make any final decisions.

In the coming weeks, our goal is to find the best option for risk mitigation of the dams through the winter and beyond as well as ensuring the continued safety and integrity of the Chase River eco-system. We know this goal is achievable.

Recent Documents:

Tom Hickey's memo to council - July 8th, 2013

Chief Doug White's letter to council in response to Tom Hickey's memo

Snuneymuxw First Nations Press Release - July 7th, 2013

Snuneymuxw First Nations letter to Scott Morgan - July 8th, 2013

Chief Doug White issues plea for comprehensive feasibility study on the Colliery dams - July 10th, 2013

Joint Snuneymuxw and City Appointment of Facilitator to Assist on Colliery Dams - July 11th, 2013