March 5, 2013

Statement made by our MLA, Doug Routely, at the BC Legislature on March 4th, 2013 :

I'd like to share with the members a story about Colliery Dam Park in Nanaimo. Before I can paint a picture of the park, you have to understand that it's in south Nanaimo. South Nanaimo is a community of working families who struggle every day to put food on the table, pay the rent and generally get by.

Paid recreation is not an option for many of these families, so they've become very attached to the recreation that's provided by the Colliery Dam Park. These are two lakes that were created by two dams that were put in place over a hundred years ago in order to wash coal for the coal industry. The lakes provide walking trails, fishing and swimming for the residents of Nanaimo.

Recently the dam safety branch has instructed Nanaimo that there's a one-in-10,000-years' chance that these dams might fail in an earthquake. Schools are built to a one-in-2,475-years' chance, hospitals to a one-in-3,000-years' chance. The dams must be built to 1-in-10,000-years' chance of failure.

The people of Nanaimo are very upset about the potential loss of the dams. The city has responded by quite rightfully taking the immediate steps of potentially removing the dams at a cost of $7 million. This would take away from the community this vital asset, and the community has responded by forming a society to save these dams.

The community wants to siphon off the water, reduce the risk — find an alternative other than removing these dams and losing their precious park. The city of Nanaimo is open to this kind of an approach. The dam safety branch is open to a mitigation of the risks and a study of what might be done to save this park.

I hope that the government and this House will be willing to partner with the city of Nanaimo and the people of Nanaimo, my constituents, to save this valuable city asset. It has great educational, historic and recreational value, and the people of Nanaimo hold this park very precious to their hearts.