Demise of Springbank Dam one step closer

City councillors say they want the Thames River to flow freely, along with an outpouring of supportive Londoners.

Mayor Matt Brown campaigned to keep the dam, but now wants it decommissioned

London's Thames River has been without a functioning dam since gates on the Springbank dam failed to function in 2008. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

City councillors — along with a throng of supportive Londoners — say they want the Thames River to flow freely.

The city's civic works committee supported a report on Tuesday that recommends the decommissioning of the Springbank Dam.

The dam has been out of commission since 2008 after a hinge on one of the gates broke.

Mayor Matt Brown, who campaigned on a promise to repair Springbank Dam prior to his election in 2014, said Tuesday it would be virtually impossible now to fix it.

"This has been a very polarizing and divisive issue, not just for this council but the entire community," he said.

City staff presented the One River Environmental Assessment report, which includes the recommendation to decommission the dam.

As part of the assessment, Londoners were presented with three options last year:

  • Option 1: Do nothing and leave the dam in its current state
  • Option 2: Decommission the dam to support a free-flowing river
  • Option 3: Fix the dam

The report found the majority of groups and people who took part in the review preferred option two. That option would see the dam decommissioned so it does not provide any water retention.

Indigenous communities

As part of the public consultation, city staff said they would reach out to local Indigenous communities.

The gallery was full on Tuesday as Londoners were invited to speak one last time on the fate of the dam at a public participation meeting.

A representative from Oneida Nation of Thames suggested the city look into water quality in the area of the reserve.

"We have much work to do to improve the overall quality of the Thames River and the natural environment surrounding it, but this is a significant step," said councillor Tanya Park.

City council is expected to rubber stamp the committee's recommendation next week.