London councillors waver on Springbank Dam

It’s not over till it’s over.

Some politicians are encouraging a “wait and see” approach when it comes to Springbank Dam, despite a new report that suggests bringing the broken dam back into service could be a serious challenge given the permits needed to do a fix.

But the civic works committee was calm on Tuesday night as it debated the report, with several councillors saying they’ll wait for further information.

“It would be grossly unfair to start saying ‘I’ve decided’ or ‘this is how I’ve decided’ before we hear from the public,” Coun. Phil Squire said, citing the environmental assessment process that’s underway - writes

Londoners can weigh in on the fate of the dam at public information sessions on Oct. 18 and 19.

Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert asked why a key report would be released before those meetings.

“We certainly want people coming to our public information sessions to have an understanding of the regulatory procedures,” city engineer Kelly Scherr said.

The report outlines comments from agencies and departments like the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Upper and Lower Thames Conservation Authorities, which agree that protecting endangered species in the Thames River is a top priority.

The fish, mussels and turtles flourishing in the Thames with the dam broken create a potential problem for the city. London would have to satisfy a long list of regulatory demands, a task the report terms “extremely difficult to impossible,” to fix the dam.

Flooding first damaged the dam in 2000, and the repair dragged on for years, plagued by delays and cost overruns. In 2008, bolts broke off one of four new gates during a test, triggering a multimillion lawsuit. The city ended up with a $3.77 million settlement in 2015.

Coun. Bill Armstrong said it’s important for local residents to have the full picture before they make up their minds on the dam.

“Fix the dam or don’t fix the dam, that’s simplifying the issue,” Coun. Bill Armstrong said.

Right now there are three options on the table: reinstate the dam, have a free-flowing river, or do nothing at all.

Scott Mathers, the city’s director of water and wastewater, suggested those alternatives are “categories” that cover a variety of plans for future use.

That includes what to do with the gates, a question posed Coun. Anna Hopkins, whose ward includes Springbank Dam.

Mathers said the gates should be dealt with after council makes a decision on the dam. If they vote for a free-flowing river, the gates could be removed, or left where they are.

Read also other news of London on our site.

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