Off with their Heads!

Ron Bolin: June 12, 2013

At its meeting of June 10, 2013, Nanaimo City Council, in a 5 to 4 decision, decided to “authorize the public tender call for the removal of the lower and middle Chase River Dams.”  This decision followed impassioned calls from the public, accompanied by some 37 presentations, all opposed to this unilateral move which has aroused general public suspicion regarding its underlying agenda: it was particularly to be noted that this motion did not contain any reference to Council’s previous unconvincing promise to rebuild or set in motion any actions in this regard.  Also presented at the meeting was a letter of support from the MLA for the area, Doug Routley offering his services in assisting with discussions with the Ministers of Natural Resources and the Environment to provide: “an opportunity for the BC government to review measures and options that might meet requirements for safety and long-term considerations to be met.”  There was also a verbal offer made by a local developer to undertake a contract for the design build and reconstruction of the dams for a fixed and bonded sum of $8.6 million.  I am trying to contact this gentleman to determine whether my interpretation of his comments is correct and if a bona fide offer has been made to the City.

When the delegations had finished and it was time to consider the motion, Councillor Pattje made an exceedingly statesmanlike presentation regarding his opposition to the motion, regardless of Council’s May 13 decision in this matter.  Agreeing with him to see the recommendation defeated were Councillors Bestwick, Kipp and McKay, on fundamentally similar grounds.  Councillors Johnston and Brennan extensively defended the motion on the grounds of public safety and their understanding of the facts. Mayor Ruttan was apparently reassured by the May 13 agreement to rebuild, if, if, if…. Apparently contemptuous of the audience and the public at large, neither Councillor Greves nor Councillor Anderson deigned to defend their votes in favour of the motion.  These latter five prevailed.

One can view this meeting on line at:

What can one say of such a meeting and such a decision?  One might recommend, rather than spending an as yet undetermined sum of money at $1200 per head for a Calgary Trade Mission, that that money be spent sending someone to Las Vegas to determine from a reputable betting agent what odds they would give on the Colliery dams failing in the next year or two.  After all, the fundamental problem here is risk vs cost.  The cost of losing these two lakes is extremely high: this park and all that it represents to the residents of Harewood and to the City at large becomes just another patch of ground.  The risk of failure in the next year or two as estimated by amateur guessers is a matter of broad conjecture and, at this time, little substance.

And where have been the delegations of those dwelling or working in the Harewood plain who feel so threatened that they want to see the dams removed?  I am sure that there may be some.  But where are they?  Are they restricted to members of Council?  Indeed, previously in surveys of that area and again on Monday no Harewood delegations came forward to express their immediate fear and demand immediate removal.  Just how far along the road to an Orwellian managed state have we come.  Big Brother does NOT always know best.

This subject calls out for further consideration in view of the situation. Feel free to comment to this or other local newspapers, blogs, in Nanaimo and, of course, to Council.   Continue to support the Lakes and their peace.  See you at the Beer and Burger fund raiser at the Queens on June 28, 6-11pm.

In case there is any misunderstanding, the words in the title to this posting refer to the vote to remove the dam heads.

The document formalizing the verbal offer to renew the dams from CANBuild Solutions, a Nanaimo development firm, can be found HERE.