Friday, December 21, 2012

Colliery Park Lakes Dam Decision

 Why Nanaimo Residents Should Give A Damn

Whether you enjoy what Colliery Park has to offer or if you have never set foot in the park, as a taxpaying citizen of Nanaimo you should really care about how city hall decided to remove the dams. It would appear this was another serious decision that was manipulated in such a way as to eliminate council and public opposition to a decision made by city staff long ago.

While city staff may say they wanted to save the dams, the fact that back in 2010, the engineer hired by the city reports he had been told that saving the dams was not considered as a good use of tax dollars. Remember, that report gave three options to address safety issues arising from the seismic assessment, one of those options being to rehabilitate the dams at a cost of $500,000.00 each or rebuilding the pair at a cost of $10 million plus.

The engineer who did this assessment pointed to the potential social impact a decision to remove the dams would have and advised that public opinion could make that decision quite contentious. In spite of that, it appears that city staff made the policy decision, absent council input, to proceed with a plan to remove the dams.

Fast forward to this past October and an in-camera (in-secret) council meeting at which city council was put into the position of having to make the decision to remove these dams under threat of ignoring a serious public safety issue. The need for immediate action was presented as being so acute, that the regular tendering process had to be negated and an engineer was hired without seeing competing bids to do the work of dam removal. The urgency of this decision was attributed to direction from the province (who have denied they issued a deadline to do anything but submit an acceptable plan of action to deal with the issue). In fact the emergency evacuation plan put forth by the city, satisfied the Dam Safety branch concerns.

This decision was made in secret and not released to the press until a week had passed, meaning that the time this decision could be revisited was now less than three weeks away. Hardly enough time for the public to barely realize what had been decided, let alone express any meaningful opposition to the decision.

Part of the process of informing the public included the 'facts' there could be a 40% chance of the dams failing in 50 years (a statement not made by an engineer), it was also said that rebuilding the dams would cost $20 - $30 million ( another statement not made by an engineer).

The parallel to the method which an in secret decision was made that saw the expending of $16 million to provide staff with a shiny new office, and shiny new furniture can't be ignored. That decision was not even made public until after the period to revisit it had safely passed, showing the utter disdain held for public input, when it comes to spending public funds.

To close, the general public may not give a damn about the dams in Colliery Park, but they sure should give a damn, about how city staff keeps spending YOUR tax dollars, hidden away from public view and any meaningful public input.


1 comment:

  1. I have shiny furniture the city staff can have,
    LEAVE the park alone.


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