The issue of what to do with the Springbank Dam has been going on a LONG TIME, but the debate and conversations have reached a fevered pitch over the last few weeks.
If you’re like me and are a little late to the debate, it can be a little confusing to know what it’s all about.
Here is a historical timeline for the issue with the Springbank Dam:
- The dam has been a sore point in London since it was damaged in a flood in 2000. Repairs on the dam didn’t begin until 2006 and the issue came to a boiling point in 2008 when one of the steel gates became stuck in the open position during a test.
- What followed was a lawsuit by the city against the engineers and designers and a counter-suit against the city. The case wasn’t put to rest until a settlement was agreed to in 2015 that awarded $3.7 million to London.
- Repairing the dam was a campaign promise of Mayor Matt Brown in 2014, but the issue has divided council.
- Council voted in 2016 to do an environmental assessment (EA) at a cost of $900,000 to help them decide what to do with the dam. The EA will cover both the dam and the Back to the River project, which is a proposed overhaul of the Forks of the Thames.
- Supporters of the Back to the River project, kayakers and canoers support repairing the dam…while environmental groups such as WWF Canada, the Thames River Anglers Association and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation have all called for the dam to be decommissioned.
- In April of 2017, Scott Gillingwater, A local biologist with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, made a presentation to the strategic priorities and policy committee. He stated that having rivers flow naturally, unimpeded by dams, has helped at-risk species.
- Last month (Aug, 2017), the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority released 75 baby turtles back into the Thames River. The spiny softshell turtle is only one of 18 different species at risk.
- A report from staff laying out options for the broken structure’s future was considered and unanimously endorsed by the civic works committee last night (Sept 26th).
- The city plans on holding public information sessions October 18th and 19th where staff will present three options for the future of the dam — leave it broken, repair it or remove it.
- Council is expected to make a decision on the dam before the end of the year.
- The environmental assessment (EA) is expected to be finished in May 2018, which is just a few months before the next municipal election.
The conversations on social have also intensified in recent weeks with a large majority of them (every one that I could find), AGAINST fixing the dam!