Colwood’s Lookout Lake gets reprieve; dam may be repaired

Colwood residents can continue enjoying Lookout Lake, a popular swimming spot, for the foreseeable future.

Council voted Monday to have staff explore repairing the lake’s dam, which poses a risk to downstream residents.

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City staff had put forward four options to address the safety concerns, including decommissioning the dam and draining the lake.

Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said the main message he’s heard from people in the community is that they want to keep the lake.

“They don’t want us to remove the dam and have that water go away. The community sees this as too much of an important asset,” he said.

Monday’s unanimously approved council motion directs staff to apply for a grant of up to $750,000 from the Union of B.C. Municipalities to maintain the dam by placing rockfill on the upstream and downstream slopes. The work would protect the dam from failure in the event of a 1-in-5,000-year earthquake, according to an Aug. 19 staff report. The report estimates the cost of the work at $1.3 million.

The vote doesn’t mean work is set to begin on the dam, Martin said.

“That’s the direction we’re going. We’ll see if we get the grant, but money has not been allocated yet,” he said.

Council will revisit the issue in October to approve a staff request for funding ahead of the Oct. 25 grant deadline. The funding approval will be dependent on the city receiving the grant.

Lookout Brook Dam, built in 1958 by a private forestry operation, is rated a “very high consequence dam” by the province, according to the staff report, because of the number of residents living downstream who could be affected by a dam failure.

Dam-safety regulations require that municipal staff conduct a weekly inspection to check for any changes to the dam or spillway and measure seepage downstream of the toe of the dam. Water levels are monitored monthly.

The cost to maintain and inspect the dam is estimated at $23,000 annually.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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