Nanaimo officials are still waiting on word from the province on whether the city's short-term risk strategy for the middle and lower Colliery dams is up to snuff.
Mayor John Ruttan and councillors attending the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting (at a cost to local taxpayers of $12,000) sat down with Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson on Wednesday morning to provide an update of how the city intends to address public safety concerns surrounding the dams.
The B.C. Dam Safety Section told the city last fall that the local government, which owns
the structures, would have to ensure the dams meet stricter safety standards, following results from engineering studies commissioned by the city.
After a series of twists and turns, the city decided in August to scrap plans to remove the Colliery dams this year and instead prepare a short-term plan to help protect residents from potential dam failure while a longer-term plan is developed for sometime next year.
The short-term plan is currently with the province and is under review. Last week, ministry spokesman Brennan Clarke said the ministry would aim to respond to the city in writing by this week.
But on Wednesday, ministry spokeswoman Vivian Thomas said a response should be expected to take longer than this week. The city plans on implementing a series of risk mitigation measures, such as warning sirens and public signage, by Oct. 31.
Ruttan said he used the 15-minute meeting with Thomson to update the minister on the city's plan, but said "nothing definitive" came out of the meeting. "It really didn't achieve a great deal in some respects," Ruttan said. "It was more just to update the minister, who has been very supportive of us up to date."
Ruttan said he did not ask Thomson about the prospect of provincial financial support for the project, and said the minister told him that he has not yet been fully briefed by staff on the issue.
The city has already spent more than $700,000 on procedural costs relating to the Colliery dams.
Costs for the short-term plan could be as high as $200,000. None of the costs so far include construction work on the dams.
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