Last Night at Barsby

Ron Bolin: Nov. 20, 2012

Last night at John Barsby Secondary School, some 500+ citizens of Nanaimo gathered to remind their City Council and themselves that this is their town and that they count for something in decisions about it.  The meeting was organized by a few concerned citizens who are to be most heartily congratulated for their efforts.  For many of those present last night the lakes behind the Colliery dams and their related amenities have been a part of their heritage for generations.  But all resented the secrecy with which the decision to demolish them was taken and the apparent carelessness with which alternatives to destruction were left uninvestigated.  All citizens of Nanaimo are impacted by the latter, whether living in the Harewood area or no.

To their credit, at least seven of our nine Councillors were in attendance, and though admonished that this was a citizens meeting and that they were not intended to speak, stayed to the end of the meeting having absorbed considerable sincere and vociferous, if controlled, admonishment.  It remains to be seen what Council will do as a result: whether their sense of power will prevent them from considering alternative actions in this matter.

Let us be clear.  Doing nothing with the dams is untenable under the circumstances.  But what to do and how much to spend to do it are matters for public discourse.  Hiding in in-camera meetings and making “emergency” decisions when the emergency has not happened is also untenable.  What are the options, what do they cost and when can we get them done?  Let’s try to get this one right…