While Colwood staff and engineers work on upgrades to Lookout Brook Dam, councillors are looking for ways to maintain and improve the surrounding park’s recreational integrity as well.
At the May 11 council meeting, staff provided an update on upgrades coming to the dam. Colwood started looking at plans to upgrade it in 2019 with work anticipated this year to address a “very high” risk level associated with the dam, according to a staff report.
In February 2019, Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean announced $730,370 in funding to improve the stability of the dam, prevent failure in the event of an earthquake and help preserve Lookout Lake Park.
In August 2019, it was decided staff would proceed with a design for a rock fill buttress option to shore up the dam on both the upstream and downstream slopes.
Coun. Cynthia Day calls the park a “destination that is dear to residents’ hearts,” and asked if a sandy layer will be put in for kids and families. Staff said the ground may not be as sandy as what is currently there, but a “finer granular layer” will be used instead, due to environmental considerations for things such as the fish habitat in the lake.
Coun. Dean Jantzen also expressed a desire to ensure the area is a good swimming environment for park visitors.
“I’m thinking of little kids wading into the water,” Jantzen said.
He noted that while upgrades are being done, the City could use this as an opportunity to consider upgrades to the park such as adding more benches and tables.
“We can do better than one picnic table,” Jantzen said, suggesting upgrades be added as a future agenda item for council to discuss.
Lookout Brook Dam was built in 1958 by a private forestry operation, according to a Colwood staff report. With a residential area downstream and a spillway route that moves through a residential area in Langford, upgrades are necessary. A 2017 assessment by an engineering consultant determined it needs remedial measures to be brought up to current safety standards according to the Water Sustainability Act. They’re also needed so the dam can withstand a major earthquake.
The staff update on the dam says work is on schedule to be complete before the end of the year.