Background

What is an Environmental Assessment?

An Environmental Assessment (EA) is the process of determining what environmental impacts, if any, there will be during a project and how to minimize the impacts. The Environmental Assessment process falls under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act.

The term "environment" includes the natural, social, cultural, built and economic environments.


What is the Focus for the One River EA?

The Thames River is both our inheritance and our living legacy. It is our collective responsibility to maintain and enhance its shared natural, cultural, recreational and aesthetic resource. The One River EA will consider the area historically influenced by the Springbank Dam, and will provide a plan that coordinates critical infrastructure projects in ways that preserve for future generations this valuable resource, and allow people of all abilities to enjoy and access this designated Canadian Heritage River. This study, in the context of many other ongoing initiatives to improve the Thames River, will endeavor to align important projects in a way that enhances the river overall, maintains the vision of the Back to the River’s “The Ribbon of the Thames” concept plan, and identifies potential impacts to downstream communities and where possible avoid them.


One River EA Process Approach:

Stage 1: The objective of Stage 1 was the selection of a preferred option for the future of the Springbank Dam which will be an influential factor in the identification and evaluation of the overall river management plan going forward. The option selected will inform the decision-making process on the overall river management plan. Following comprehensive review of each option, the evaluation identified Option 2, Free-Flowing River, as the preferred option. Option 2 ranked highest overall and provided the most benefits and best met the objective of the One River EA Problem/Opportunity Statement.

Stage 2: With the option for the Springbank Dam selected, alternative strategies for river management, which consist of different types of projects related to infrastructure and river improvements, will be developed and assessed. Stage 2 will be carried out in late winter, spring and summer of 2018 and is anticipated to be concluded early in the fall 2018. This stage will also include stakeholder consultation, including consultation and engagement with First Nations and Metis, government approval agencies, interest groups and the general public.


Area of Focus

The One River Environmental Assessment area of focus includes Thames River, contained by Boler Road Bridge to the Forks of the Thames and Harris Park.

Participate!

Stage 1 Summary Report

Thank you to everyone who participated and provided feedback during the first stage of the One River Environmental Assessment.

The One River EA's first stage of consultation involving the Springbank Dam, whether to have a free flowing river or to reinstate the dam, has concluded. On January 16, 2018 City Council approved the One River Environmental Assessment Update: Phase II Stage I Report, which recommends the decommission of the Springbank Dam.

FAQS

Based on a comprehensive review of the options for Springbank Dam, the evaluation demonstrates that Option 2 – Free-Flowing River, as the preferred option. Option 2 rated the highest as providing the most benefits and best meeting the objectives of the Problem/Opportunity Statement to “maintain and enhance this shared natural, cultural, recreational and aesthetic resource” and “preserve for future generations this valuable resource and allow people of all abilities to enjoy and access this designated Canadian Heritage River”.

Option 1: Do Nothing – the dam will be kept in its current condition

Option 2: Free-Flowing River – the dam will be decommissioned so it will not provide a water retention function

Option 3: Reinstate the Dam – the dam will be repaired or reconstructed

The criteria for Springbank Dam were developed through consultation with project stakeholders, the general public, and engagement with First Nations. The criteria cover the range of potential changes from what is considered the baseline condition, which is the existing conditions in the river within the study area and the current condition of the dam. The baseline condition was established through the examination of various databases on water quality and the ecological environment, consultation and engagement, and field studies.

The three categories of criteria represent potential impacts on the natural environment, the social/cultural environment, and technical/economic considerations.

The criteria for the natural environment category include water quality, Species at Risk, terrestrial and aquatic habitat, as well as geomorphology (slope and river bottom stability) and groundwater and surface water interactions.

The criteria for the social/cultural category include various forms of recreation, public health and safety, urban revitalization, First Nations interests, cultural heritage, and so forth.

Technical and economic considerations include constructability, approvability (the ability to obtain required permits and approvals), operations and maintenance, relative capital costs, flood hazard, carbon footprint, and compatibility with existing and planned infrastructure projects.

A description of each evaluation category and criteria is provided in Section 4 of the report.

Option 2, free-flowing river, ranked first in its ability to provide a benefit to the natural environment. It has the potential to improve water quality, aquatic and terrestrial habitats, and protect and enhance Species-At-Risk.

Options 2 and 3, free-flowing river and reinstate the dam respectively, have similar ratings. Each of these options have potential to maintain and enhance social and cultural resources in the study area, albeit in different ways.

For the technical and economic factors, Option 1, Do Nothing, rates highest as it is the easiest to implement with the least costs. Option 3 would be the most challenging to implement, in large part due to the anticipated difficulties in receiving permits and approvals.

Score Summary by Category:

Criteria Category

Option 1: Do Nothing

Option 2: Free Flowing River

Option 3: Reinstate Dam

Natural Environment

3.0

4.5

1.3

Social/Cultural Environment

2.1

4.3

4.1

Technical and Economic

3.7

3.1

2.1

Total

8.8

12.0

7.6

The detailed evaluation matrix is provided in Appendix F of the report.

Several methods of consultation were used during Stage 1 to engage the stakeholders in meaningful ways and to receive input. The objectives of the Phase 1 public engagement program were to:

Introduce the One River Master Plan EA to the community

Drive residents to the GetInvolved.london.ca website to learn more about the EA and participation in the One River Public Survey

Engage community members in meaningful conversations about the One River Master Plan EA to gather constructive, solutions-based input

Inform the ultimate selection of an option for the Springbank Dam

To continuously monitor the success of the Public Engagement Program in reaching its audiences, and to adjust the program, as required

An overview of the consultation and engagement activities is provided in Section 7 of the report.

Of those that completed the Public Information Centre survey, 70% of respondents supported an unobstructed river (Option 1 and Option 2) with 24% of respondents in support of reinstating the dam (Option 3). The remaining 6% were in favour of a combination of options or did not provide a response.

The Back to the River “Ribbon of the Thames” award-winning design incorporates a number of elements that support a River vision that has been called bold and exciting. It focuses on bringing people back to the River to enjoy a significant cultural and heritage resource and engage in activities that reflect the river’s beauty and cultural significance. Coordination with the Ribbon of the Thames Civitas/Stantec team has begun on how the design elements of Back to the River can be integrated into the EA evaluation and be adapted to potentially changing water levels. The design elements of the Ribbon of the Thames can be integrated into the range of water levels represented by the Springbank Dam options.

Yes, the report is being presented for public comment at a Public Participation Meeting at Civic Works Committee on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, not to be heard before 5:45 p.m.

The project team heard from many stakeholders and members of the public that it was important to have sufficient lead time to review the consultant’s report prior to a final public participation meeting on the Springbank Dam.

Written submissions to be included on the Civic Works Committee Added Agenda for the meeting should be submitted by no later than 9:00 AM on January 8, 2018, either delivered or mailed to the City Clerk’s Office, Room 308, 300 Dufferin Avenue, P.O. Box 5035, London, ON, N6A 4L9. Submissions in accordance with the above-noted deadline may be emailed to CWC@london.ca. Personal information collected and recorded at the public participation meeting or submitted in writing on this subject is collected under the authority of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended, and will be used by Members of Council and City of London staff in their review of this matter. The written submissions, including names and contact information and the report of the public participation meeting, will be made available to the public, including posting on the City of London’s website. A video recording of the meeting proceedings may also be posted to the City of London’s website. Questions about this collection should be referred to Cathy Saunders, City Clerk, 519-661-2489 ext. 4937.

Please note that all correspondence will be maintained for reference throughout the project and will become part of the project record. Under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA), unless otherwise stated in the submission, any personal information such as name, address, telephone number and property location included in a submission will become part of the public record files for this project and will be released, if requested, to any person.

Subject to council approval of this report, the One River EA project will move ahead as three separate initiatives. The “Forks of the Thames” initiative will consider the council endorsed “Ribbon of the Thames” design submission selected as part of the Back to the River international design competition. The “River Enhancements” initiative will consider river enhancement and improvements, building on public comments suggested during the first stage of the One River EA. This initiative will consider projects such as canoe and kayak launch locations, improvements to existing public amenity/look-out spaces, environmental stewardship projects, and erosion improvements. The final initiative the “Springbank Dam Decommissioning” will consider the most environmentally appropriate way to decommission the Springbank Dam.

Stage 2 - We are here

We are now in Stage 2 of the One River EA

The One River Master Plan approach integrates multiple river-based projects to ensure that issues affecting each project will be fully considered in the evaluation of alternatives for other projects; while also taking financial advantage of overlapping study requirements. It began with the Springbank Dam in Stage 1, where any recommendation would have direct influence on other river-base projects. An endorsed preferred option for the Dam, a free-flowing river, has now been established after undergoing numerous public participation, First Nations, stakeholder consultation, committee, and City Council meetings.

What's Next ?

With the preferred option for Sprinkbank Dam endorsed, work moves into Stage 2. Over the next few months, we'll be seeking your input on three streams of river-based projects:

  • River Management Options - define plans for shoreline remediation, access points, look outs, and other features
  • Dam Decommissioning Options - determine the approach and ideal result of a decommissioned dam
  • Forks of the Thames Options - select preferred and priority features based on the Back to the River Design by Civitas.

We'll continue to work with consulting firm, Jacobs, and continue sharing environmental study work, remaining closely coordinated such that each stream can continue to completion without being delayed by the progress of another.

Stay tuned for public, First Nations, and stakeholder engagement opportunities along with new designs and studies completed for public consideration.

View the Presentation Boards from Public Information Centre # 2 and complete the survey to share your feedback.

Stage 2 Public Information Centre # 1 was held on Wednesday, June 6 at Museum London. Stage 2 Public Information Centre # 2 was held on Wednesday, October 3 at Central Library.

Stage 2 Report Files can be found in the Document Library tab.


Preferred Alternative for Forks of the Thames - Ribbon of the Thames Inaugural Project

Document Library