What exactly does “partial removal” include?

    Partial removal means keeping the concrete structure, while removing parts such as hydraulic equipment, electronics, the control building and the steel gates that currently sit on the bed of the river. Improvements to dam structure stability, an ongoing preventative maintenance and safety inspection program, shoreline remediation, and habitat improvements are also included in the project.

    Will Springbank Park remain open during construction?

    Yes, it will remain open. Closing the park is not necessary. 

    However, access to the Rivers Edge Drive parking lot will be closed to the public for safety reasons as it will become a construction site.

    How and when will the TVP be affected?

    The Thames Valley Parkway (TVP) along the riverbank will be closed between Rivers Edge Drive and Springbank Gate during construction. Detours for pedestrians and cyclists will be provided within Springbank Park. Regular traffic is expected to resume by end of 2024.

    Who owns and maintains the dam and why was it built?

    Springbank Dam is owned by the City of London and was constructed in 1929 to provide a reservoir for drinking water supply and recreation opportunities for the city. Most recently, the dam was for recreational use by the public, including the London Canoe Club and the London Rowing Club. The pond created by the Dam extended upstream to the forks of the Thames River. Prior to the failure of Gate 1, it remained closed (forming a reservoir behind it) for approximately 5 months between mid-June and mid-November. The Dam was required to remain open for the balance of the year, allowing the river to run free through it.

    For many decades, the operation and maintenance of the Dam was provided by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) in partnership with the City.

    What is the timeline of events regarding the dam decommissioning?

    July 9, 2000: The dam is overtopped during a flood due to debris accumulation, damaging the south bank and raising concerns about the safety of the structure.

    May 2, 2002: Dam Safety Assessment completed by Acres International (now Hatch-Acres). Report identified the need for better debris passage, improved operational efficiency, and repairs to the portions of the dam damaged in 2000.

    2002: City of London received funding to rehabilitate the dam and repair the failed erosion protection through the Ontario Sports, Culture and Tourism Program and the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program.

    January 2004: Environmental assessment completed; public and agency review period ended January 12, 2004.

    June to September 2006: The last season the Springbank Dam was in fulltime operation.

    August 2006: Updating of Agency approvals, Tender approval by the City of London.

    September 2006: Construction started on the rehabilitation of Springbank Dam. A construction tender was awarded by the City of London in August 2006 to MacLean Taylor Construction Ltd. of St. Marys, Ontario. Hatch Acres of Niagara Falls are the Consulting Engineers overseeing the construction.

    October 2007: Construction of the new gates was completed.

    June 19, 2008: During the commissioning exercise, Gate #1 malfunctioned after anchor bolts on one of the two hinges failed. The three remaining gates were then lowered to their open positions (resting at the river bottom). 

    April 2009: The City of London issued a Statement of Claim for $5.2 million in the Superior Court of Justice against five defendants, including the engineering consultant and the company responsible for the design, fabrication and supply of the four gates that form part of the Springbank Dam project.

    December 17, 2015: The City announces a $3.77 million settlement has been reached for Springbank Dam via the legal process, and is to be held by the City in the Sewer Works Reserve Fund, until such time Council provides direction on the future use of Springbank Dam and use of those funds.

    July through December 2017: Public consultation for Phase I and Phase II Stage I of the One River Master Plan Environmental Assessment (EA) took place 

    January 2018: Council endorsed the recommendation of the Stage I report to decommission Springbank Dam. The scope of Phase II Stage II was revised to satisfy the Schedule B requirements for the decommissioning of Springbank Dam, including a River Characterization report, Springbank Dam Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and Forks of the Thames EIS.

    May 21, 2019: On the recommendation of Environment and Infrastructure staff, Council directed that the preferred River Management Plan put forth be adopted, including partial removal of Springbank Dam. A notice of Completion for the One River Master Plan Environmental Assessment was issued. 

    February 2021: The City of London retained Stantec Consulting Ltd. to provide engineering services for the detailed design of the decommissioning.

    What is the history of boating on the river?

    There is a long history of boating, including canoes, paddlewheel boats, rowing sculls and steam boats along the Thames River in London, including:

    • Indigenous residents and voyageurs used canoes to travel the Thames River from Lighthouse Cove (Lake St. Clair) to points eastward (Dundas and Lake Ontario) using the Forks of the Thames as a portage route. 
    • The War of 1812 saw canoe traffic near Reservoir Hill where one of the infamous battles was fought (formerly called Hungerford Hill).
    • The first location of Springbank Dam built in 1870 related to London’s waterworks and provided a reservoir upstream for pleasure boating and business trade.
    • Steam boats regularly plied the waters of the Thames in the 1880’s between The Forks and Springbank Park (the Princess Louise, the Thames, and the Victoria) and on the busiest day, 1,650 passengers would be transported between locations. More recently, the Storybook Queen, a miniature riverboat travelled the same route in 1969.
    • The most well-known and ill-fated boating event ended in tragedy in 1881 with 182 lives lost from the sinking of the Victoria steamer in 5 metres (17 feet) of water. The sunny Sunday afternoon tragedy was the result of an imbalanced ship when passengers moved to one side to view a passing rowing scull.
    • London Rowing Club (formed in 1870) and London Canoe Club (formed in 1974) have used the Thames River for decades with interruptions during the World Wars and after the major floods. The most recent interruption was after the malfunction of the new gates at Springbank Dam in 2008.