Londoners will get the chance to have their say on what should happen to the Springbank Dam, but it won’t be until early spring, likely after budget talks have wrapped up.
At the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee meeting Thursday night, council passed a motion to discuss the matter of the Springbank Dam (as well as the Back to the River project and West London Dyke) further at a meeting of the Civic Works Committee.
A handful of councillors took issue with a list of about 10 projects dealing with the downtown that city staff recommend council undertake.
According to some, the one project that did not fit among the rest was the Springbank Dam.
City staff is hoping to deal with all of the projects together as they all relate to each other. They are looking to consolidate the environmental assessments that need to be done, so far as having one overarching EA for all of the projects. In particular, they would like to have one for projects that deal with the Thames River (Springbank Dam, Back to the River, West London Dyke).
Bundling the projects together, as city staff said, would be less costly and time consuming.
Other projects included in the report are Shift Rapid Transit, the Dundas Flex Street, and Blackfriars Bridge among others.
Staff made clear that no decisions were being made on any of the projects, including the dam, at the meeting. However, some councillors, including Ward 13’s Tanya Park, didn’t mince words over her position.
“When I hear comments about the repair or not repair of the Springbank Dam linking to the Back to the River project, right in that document it very clearly articulates the designs are flexible. So the politicking around that really sours me.”
Staff answered questions from council that if they were leaning in the direction of decommissioning the dam, would they still need an environmental assessment? The answer was yes.
“We could make a decision tonight that would unlock $3.75-million of our budget that we’re about to make decisions on if we decided not to do anything with the Springbank Dam, and that also would not require an EA. Thus, it would be the most cost efficient measure for the City of London and the taxpayers.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Matt Brown said he’s still set on fixing the dam, something he campaigned on during his mayoral bid.
“If we want to strengthen the connection of our community and the river and see recreation occurring at the Forks of the Thames, then that would require a dam. If we want to see a different kind of Back to the River program moving forward, then that may not.”
The next Civic Works Committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 2 but councillors agreed that would not be enough time for delegations to put together arguments for or against the dam.
The Civic Works Committee will meet March 8th to discuss bundling the Springbank Dam, Back to the River, and the West London Dyke.