Ron Bolin: May 14, 2013
At 3:44 yesterday afternoon the Provincial Dam Safety Board sent a letter to the City which demanded some action this year to mitigate the possibility of any imminent catastrophic failure of the middle and lower Colliery Dams. Why this letter should be sent less than four hours before a Council meeting at which the issue of the dams was to be discussed remains an intriguing mystery. The letter itself neither recommended methods of mitigation which might be implemented this year, nor did it indicate that removal of the dams in 2013 was the only acceptable mitigation. The immense gap left between these two positions apparently went unnoticed by our Council, with the possible exception of Councillor Johnston who put forward the notion of reducing the water level behind the dams which would significantly mitigate the current risk. For whatever reason, this suggestion was allowed to get lost in the rush to see the dams destroyed as quickly as possible without a clear path to reconstruction.
The failure to communicate between the three major interested parties, i.e. the public, the City and the Dam Safety Branch, in any full and open manner since this issue was made public has not failed to draw attention to the increasing suspicion that all is not as it has been presented. Staff appears to have attempted to keep the other two parties divided by not providing a public forum where all could play on the same field at the same time. Instead they have positioned themselves as a mouthpiece for the Dam Safety Branch, interpreting DSBs position while overlooking the apparent lacunae in the logic of that position as they represented it. This has been further highlighted by repeatedly stated City projections for reconstruction costs which now turn out to be two to three times higher than those provided not only by citizen experts, but finally by the very experts hired by the City to study the alternatives for the dams. It has been difficult to sustain the pretense that there is nothing more at issue here than safety. Read the rest of this entry »