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Public to weigh in on the future of the Springbank Dam

Springbank dam.
Springbank dam. City of London

Londoners will have their opportunity to give their two cents on the future of the Springbank Dam.

Public consultations meetings are being held Wednesday and Thursday where members of the community can add their voice to the debate on whether to fix the dam, leave it the way it is, or get rid of it.

According to a report by city staff, repairing the dam would be extremely difficult.

READ MORE: Public consultations set to begin on future of Springbank Dam, will they matter?

The report says the quality of the river has improved over the past 17 years and the city would have to get approval from the federal and provincial governments plus multiple conservation authorities in order to move ahead with repairs.

The report also says repairing the dam would lead to habitat loss for a number of endangered and threatened species at risk.

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On the other hand, the report notes social factors, like kayaking and fishing, as important considerations for the decision.

The dam isn’t necessary for flood control, it’s used to raise the water levels for recreational purposes only.

READ MORE: Three options for Springbank Dam: Leave it, fix it, or get rid of it

The dam was damaged in a flood in 2000. Repairs didn’t begin until 2006 and the issue came to a boiling point in 2008 when one of the steel gates became stuck in the open position during a test.

Supporters of the Back to the River project and recreational users of the river support repairing the dam, while environmental groups such as WWF Canada, the Thames River Anglers Association and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation have all called for the dam to be decommissioned.

A public information session will be held Oct. 18 at the Central Library from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. A second meeting will be held Oct. 19 at Goodwill Industries on Horton Street from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.

City staff will gather information from the meetings and report back to council at a later date.

City council are expected to make a final decision by the end of the year.