Nanaimo council has endorsed a plan aimed at curbing potential risk associated with the middle and lower Colliery dams over the coming winter months.
A city staff proposal to implement water level monitoring and sirens to warn of imminent or likely dam failure was unanimously approved by Mayor John Ruttan and councillors Monday night as part of an overall shortterm risk mitigation plan.
The plan is intended as a stop-gap measure to protect the public - particularly in the Harewood neighbourhood - in the event that the dams fail due to flooding or seismic events.
The city is working alongside the Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Colliery Dams Preservation Society to reach long-term proposal to address safety concerns with the structures. The short-term plan approved by council Monday will cost between $50,000 and $100,000, according to city staff. However, staff have also admitted the costs could increase beyond that range.
Although cost was discussed Monday night, the plan received broad support, including from the CDPS, which has volunteered to help implement the plan.
CDPS leader Jeff Solomon stressed his group wants to see action taken on the dams, but for an "appropriate cost." He praised council for voting to cancel a tender to remove the dams back in August.
Solomon also said he hopes the short-term plan, which builds on an earlier community emergency plan prepared for the dams last October, will be used as "a stepping stone" for the rest of the city.
Councillors Diana Johnstone and Bill McKay agreed, stating the plan should be used as a model for other emergency response plans in the city, although Coun. Jim Kipp argued the city also needs to list and prioritize funding for its emergency response measures.
While Solomon credited council for recent decisions regarding the dams, Ruttan specifically singled out staff members for their work on the project, adding that they have gone through "a lot of turmoil and angst" over the past few months.
In addition to actively measuring water levels and implementing an early warning system, the plan also includes putting up 80 signs in the community and a significant public outreach campaign.
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