Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Save Colliery Dam Public Meeting

Over 500 Attend Public Meeting
To Save Colliery Dam

One thing is certain and that is if city staff and city council think that the Colliery Dams have come to the end of their useful life, they have not read the public very well and may be victims of just listening to their own opinions.

It was a packed out meeting in the gymnasium at John Barsby School on Tuesday night where organizer Jeff Solomon with the aid of many organizers were able to send a message loud and clear to city hall. The message? Colliery Dam and the lakes they create are worth saving and no one is convinced the city gave any other options enough serious consideration.

For a grass roots organization flying by the seat of their pants with little over two weeks to organize they have done a remarkable job of getting the area sitting up and paying attention to what I suspect city hall figured would be just another slam dunk.

City hall has been taught for the most part they can get away with just about anything with little to no public push back. A $72 million water plant and $16 million annex comes quickly to mind. These two projects for the most part barely caused a ripple on the pond but the loss of Colliery Dam and the lakes they create were not going to go unnoticed, even if the local press started playing the official city tune from the get-go.

A retired engineer who is a part of this grass roots group was able to explain what the studies the city commissioned say and don't say about the condition of the dams and the alternatives to improve the level of safety. Needless to say they disagree with the conclusions of city staff who ultimately are the ones who have swayed council in their decision.

If city council can't figure out that in-camera meetings and not engaging the public is the best way to get things done they really haven't learned a thing since the low barrier housing fiasco. You can't keep making decisions in secret and then just think you can ramrod it through without ruffling a few feathers.

You can expect to hear much more from this group as they get themselves organized and focused in their fight with city hall to save the Colliery Dams. Tactics to apply political pressure were discussed as well as the possibility of a full on occupation similar to the Friends fo the Clayquot action were not ruled out.

City councilors and city staff will always tell you how keen they are for participatory democracy. We'll see!


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