Springbank Dam. Photo by Miranda Chant, BlackburnNews.com

Legal Twist In Springbank Dam Debate

Those pushing for the repair of London’s Springbank Dam may now have a legal argument to bolster their case.

A staff report going to the Civic Works Committee on Tuesday warns if the dam isn’t repaired the city could be on the hook for $2.8-million.

Under an agreement signed in 2005 by then-mayor Anne Marie DiCicco-Best, the city received $1.4-million each from the provincial and federal governments to fix the dam. The deal included a clause that called for the repayment of those funds if the city does not operate the dam until at least March 31, 2027.

The dam has been out of operation since 2006 when work on a multi-million dollar upgrade began. In 2008, a malfunction during testing of the upgrades left the dam inoperable. A lawsuit launched against the contractors in 2009 was settled in the fall of 2015 with the city receiving $3.775-million.

Word of the city’s financial committment to the two levels of government seems to strengthen the argument of dam supporters who want it fixed for recreational purposes. Those on the opposite side of the dam dispute maintain the Thames River is healthier without it.

The latest group to add its voice to the scores of others calling for the dam’s decommission is the Urban League of London. Based on facts presented by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, the group is requesting the city leave the dam as is, take the doors off, or fully decommission it.

A public meeting on the issue is scheduled for March 8 at city hall. So far 18 people have requested to speak, another 22 have provided written submissions, and a petition with 2,500 signatures will be received.