Monday, November 26, 2012

Colliery Park Lakes Dam Decision

Many Questions Need Answering About Process

The recent controversy over the city staff-led decision to destroy Colliery Parks Lakes has brought to light some serious questions about the whole process and how city hall staff handled this issue.


The whole timeline of this matter needs some consideration and the way in which city manager, Mr. Al Kenning chose to deal with this matter. The Dam Safety review conducted in 2003 recommended a seismic hazard assessment based on concerns about the dam. The city did not authorize this work until Feb. 2009 and that assessment was not issued for use until April 2010. There were serious concerns raised about these dams at this time. However, it was not until Sept. 2012 that the flood inundation study was released. Given the seriousness city staff now attaches to these dams, why have they seemingly dragged their feet so long on this file?

It was also during this timeline that city staff were busy convincing city council of the pressing need to provide them with a shiny new office.

Costs To Destroy Dams Not A Firm Price:

At the COW meeting of Nov. 26, 2012 it was revealed by Mr. Sims, the head of the water department that the publicized price of $7 million to remove the dams is no better than an educated guesstimate, as is the price of $20 - $30 million to upgrade these dams. If nothing else, you really have to question just how seriously this matter has been considered by Mr. Kenning, if getting nothing better than guesstimates when making buying decisions you have to wonder about those best practices we hear about from time to time.

You may recall when it came to awarding the $12 million contract to build the new Annex, which decision was also based on 'seismic assessment', there never was a tendering process used. Rather it seems that once again guesstimates were the order of the day, for example when deciding against buying an existing building and upgrading it, it was said to cost between $1 million and $8 million to upgrade. That's a pretty wide guesstimate, but was enough for city staff to abandon buying an existing building in favour of spending $16 million on a shiny new office.

Just Leading To A Foregone Conclusion?

You have to wonder if there ever was any genuine desire on the part of Mr. Kenning to retain the Colliery Park Lakes or if their removal was the plan from the beginning. Of course there has to be the appearance of doing the city's business in a proper manner following best practices. But you would be forgiven for concluding Mr. Kenning believed destroying the dams was the best option and set about to convince city council that was what had to be done and based his persuasion on questionable guesstimates at best.

The Process:

The process was clearly handled in such a manner as to completely eliminate any possible feedback from the public or any time given for any input from the public with what is proving to be possibly viable, and cost saving alternatives. Some councilors would have you believe they were given very little time to agree with staff's decision to destroy the lakes. There is no doubt the public was denied any opportunity to put forward their concerns or ideas about a safe, agreeable resolution.

On the surface it appears that staff, once again are simply operating in a high-handed manner designed to push this decision through without due consideration from council or the public.

Openness, Transparency, Participatory Democracy, Accountability, Communicate:

Do these principles actually describe goals this city staff and city council really believe in, or are they just buzz words of the day designed for that famous 15 second sound bite we all think passes for news these days?

Based on the current Colliery Park Lakes fiasco, I think it appears these are just the buzz words of the day rather than being truly reflective of anything meaningful coming from city hall.


1 comment:

  1. I hadn't realized how on the ball you have been since the beginning with regards to this issue. Many thks.


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