March 3, 2013

Letter to Mayor and Council after Meeting with Peer Review Engineer

Dear Mayor and Council, we have now met with the peer review engineer to offer our suggestions for options to retain the Colliery Dams. Although we are grateful to have an opportunity to do so, it is disturbing that one of the first statements made by the peer engineer was that there was very little time for KCB to actually look at our options. When we presented the option of reducing water volume to reclassify and therefore hopefully reduce cost, both Jim Smith (engineer) and Susan Clift said that there wasn't time to do the calculations necessary.

Reducing water levels is not new information. It was discussed at the meeting with the Dam Safety representatives and before. We had asked to be involved in this process well before the Peer review stage but were denied. To be told that there is not enough time to look at our options was exactly what we had predicted and is a further disappointment in the process.

It was also stated by staff, that council had asked that rehabilitation and rebuilding only would be looked at, which according to staff did not include looking at lowering water levels in order to reclassify. If we had information from the work already done by KCB indicating the costs of rehabilitation and replacement it might not be necessary to examine this or other options. Without knowing, it is important to examine all possible options. We know that it is important to keep costs as low as possible and this option could be a significant cost savings. Lorne has indicated that doing the calculations necessary to find how much water would need to be displaced, in order to be able to build to the 1:5,000 yr standard,. should be a simple task and we would expect that this will be done.

Our mission has been to be as creative as possible in exploring all possibilities, while ensuring that the dams are safe as well as cost effective. It has been challenging to work within the 10,000 year probability, but we have done our best. We have done this with little support from city staff. We have not experienced city staff encouraging what it is our community and council have asked for. Many times we have been told that it isn't worth keeping because “it is for recreation only”. This is not for city staff to decide. We have spoken loudly and clearly that our community is deeply connected to this park and its lakes.

In our opinion the city should never have considered removing both dams since retaining only one dam has the benefit of reducing both cost and risk. While this is the least agreeable option, and one the community is strongly opposed to, it should have been part of the original options presented to council. Not considering this option is consistent with staff’s apparent decision to give no consideration to public opinion in this matter. It appears that staff determined the lakes were of no value, and removal was the only viable option all along. A stance they appear to hold to this day.

The goal now, as shown by the feedback from our January community meeting, is to keep both lakes in place while losing as little water as possible. As our representatives we would hope that you will support us to meet that goal. Cost is one factor but quality is even more important. This park is all about serving our community; the people who live here. I believe that in years to come people will look back and wonder how it came to be that it was even considered to remove the lakes.

As council you have listened to the community and asked that all the options for keeping the Dams be explored and we are grateful that you have heard us. We hope that this intention will truly be honoured.

Jeff Solomon and Roblyn Hunter