The city will launch a two-year process to find technical solutions with an aim to remediate the Colliery dams to current B.C. standards.
Councillors voted Monday to give city staff approval to move forward on a host of different measures, including solesourcing engineering and other technical professionals to sit on a new technical committee that will oversee the three-phase process.
The technical committee, which will also include members of the Colliery Dams Preservation Society and city and Snuneymuxw First Nation staff, will review and gather information on the dams.
Eventually, the committee would also develop construction and work options for the lower and middle Colliery dams.
By next July, those options would come back to council for consideration and a vote. Construction would begin in summer 2015.
Mayor John Ruttan and Coun. Bill McKay were absent, but other councillors broadly supported the measures Monday. "I'm just happy we're sitting down. .. and talking this over," said Coun. Jim Kipp.
There were concerns over the potential cost implications of the project. Consultant costs and other work on the dams has already hit $850,000. The technical committee could cost between $100,000 and $400,000 more.
City staff also believe the city may have to undertake shortterm construction on the dams in 2014 to mitigate the risk in the event the dams fail in an earthquake or extreme weather event. Finally, the long-term construction costs could surpass $20 million, according to engineering estimates obtained by the city.
The Colliery Dams Preservation Society supports council's decision Monday night, said
group leader Jeff Solomon following the vote.
CDPS is "adamantly against" a referendum or 'elector assent' process on whether to commit funds on the project. City staff indicate a referendum would take place in November 2014, alongside the municipal election.
"It shouldn't come anywhere close to that situation," Solomon said. "We want to see steps taken to get this done."
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