News Release and Letter from Doug Routley - June 5, 2013

(Nanaimo, BC, June 5, 2013) – The Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society would like to express its thanks to Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley for his letter to Mayor and Council in support of Council delaying its decision to immediately remove the middle and lower Colliery Dams.

In his letter (attached) Routley  has asked the City of Nanaimo to consider postponing any action on the Colliery Dams, until the Dams Branch and Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, Honourable Steve Thomson, are able to further review the matter when Parliament recommences. Routley plans to raise the matter with the Province as soon as the next session starts.

He says he is certain that after a full review of the facts and options available that the two levels of government can work together with the community to find a solution that is safe, practical, and ensures appropriate management of both short and long term hard and soft dollar costs.

“We greatly appreciate that Doug has taken the time to look at the facts and listen to all points of view. He understands that there is a safety issue and while safety is everyone’s paramount concern it is not a wholesale excuse to try and justify immediately removing the dams when other actions would achieve the necessary safety mitigation results along with ensuring minimum harm to the community and the environment,” said Roblyn Hunter.

“We remain committed to saving the dams in a manner that respects the will of the people, is safe, cost-effective, and sensitive to the needs of the environment, wildlife and community,” she added.

Doug Routley's Letter to Mayor and Council: 

June 4, 2013

Mayor and Council
City of Nanaimo
455 Wallace Street
Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5J6

Dear Mayor and Council

I had the pleasure of viewing your website this week, and appreciated the illustration - a
photo of a family amongst trees and woods, out by the lake. The phrase, 'Nanaimo - Where
a sense of community is second nature', reminded me of challenges we' re all
facing when it comes to decisions particular to the Colliery Dams.

I have just finished writing to the BC Ministers of Natural Resources, and the
Environment, expressing a wish to re-visit an earlier decision by the BC Dam Safety
Branch that might lead to the Colliery Dams being torn down.

Given the information I have heard, and the expressions of concern from local residents, I
have suggested that the Ministers may want to consider issues surrounding the Colliery
Dam in a similar light to that which led to the Kinsole Trestle decision being reversed.

If you recall the Kinsole Trestle was first seen as an historic feature in the Cowichan, one
that posed a safety problem that could only be resolved by it being tom down. The public
wish for reconsideration, and a willingness by local government and the BC Government
to revisit the matter, led to a resolution that met the interests of all parties. With the result
that the Kinsole Trestle is now a world-class destination for history buffs, in addition to
providing an economic boost for tourism and recreation throughout the region.

My belief is that the Colliery Dams offer similar benefits and attractions - that would
substantially contribute to the vision that Nanaimo City Council has - a place where a
sense of community is second nature.

In providing time for a second look, as was done with the Kinsole Trestle, City Council
would be reinvigorating community, while providing an opportunity for the BC
government to review measures and options that might meet requirements for safety and
long-term considerations to be met.

I believe that new information could find mitigative measures that would meet the safety
standards observed by similar structures within the Province. At the sarne time costly and
perhaps unnecessary demolition and re-building undertakings could be offset, and
perhaps set aside entirely.

As I've written to the Ministers, 'The mitigative measures could include, but are not
limited to a gradual removal of the dams where needed, with a commensurate re-building
to meet earthquake and safety standards that are acceptable and in place for
comparative structures and conditions. This would retain the natural environment and
present ecosystems thaI are dependent on the dams, as well as restoring the recreational
features and historic assets that the Colliery Dams represent.'

I would also note that delaying a decision for an RFP on the future of the dams may be in
the City's best interest at this time. With the City of Nanaimo undergoing some staff and
task readjustments, as a result of financial and budget challenges, it may be appropriate to
provide additional time for everyone to reacquaint themselves with matters that the public
have raised, as well as positions and requirements for dam and public safety.

It is my understanding that there can be flexibility in applying the standards of the day, as
long as they meet general operating procedures and baseline requirements. Taking a look
at the principles and practices in place for similar work could offer options so that present
circumstances and considerations are integrated with the need for community-based

The importance of the Colliery Dams to Nanaimo's history, its residents and the local
environment, suggest that decisions that invite all interests to be involved and to
contribute to our common future, would be well received.

I encourage City Council to be patient, so that additional options and opportunities might
have time to come forward. In this respect I would be pleased to work you, and with
Provincial departments and representatives, in helping to find a suitable resolution.

Doug Routley, MLA
Nanaimo- North Cowichan