A dam dating back decades in Colwood is being looked at for upgrades after an assessment determined it is not up to current safety standards.
Lookout Brook Dam was built in 1958 by a private forestry operation, according to a City of Colwood staff report.
A residential area is downstream of the dam and the spillway route moves west through a residential area in Langford.
The Dam Safety Branch of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Sustainability rated Lookout Brook Dam as a high consequence dam due to the amount of residents who could be affected should it fail. In 2017, an engineering consultant assessed its stability and determined it needs remedial measures in order to be brought up to current safety standards according to the Water Sustainability Act.
Upgrades to the dam are also necessary in order to ensure it can withstand a major earthquake.
Lookout Lake, held in place by the dam, is a local swimming spot where many residents go for a refreshing dip in the summer. The lake is stocked with fish for recreational fishing as well.
Currently, the City performs weekly inspections of the dam and water levels to record any changes.
At Monday’s council meeting, Colwood council unanimously moved to proceed with preparations of a preliminary design to upgrade the dam and keep the lake intact. The design would look at a rockfill buttress on the upstream and downstream slopes of the dam, protected it in the event of a major earthquake. It would cost the city about $1.3 million.
An invitation has also been extended to a geotechnical engineer to attend a future committee of the whole meeting to respond to questions from council.
Staff will also apply for a grant from the Union of BC Municipalities’s Community Emergency Preparedness Fund. A staff report says the project would be eligible for up to $750,000.
“It’s really clear that this is a jewel in the community and I think the positives for keeping that park far outweighs everything,” said Coun. Gordie Logan at Monday’s meeting.
Logan said in addition to work on the dam, he hopes Colwood can view this as an opportunity to make the lake “more user friendly and more accessible for young families” by making small upgrades to the beach.
Next steps for Colwood staff are to prepare and provide preliminary designs and obtain cost estimates for the rockfill buttress work. Those details are expected to come back to Council before the grant application deadline of Oct. 25, according to a City of Colwood spokesperson.
All decisions moving forward will be pending the outcome of the grant application which will not be known until early next year.