Springbank Dam Gate Removal

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About this project

The Springbank Dam decommissioning project is scheduled for construction in summer 2024. The design of the project is based on the preferred option of “Partial Removal” recommended by the One River Master Plan Environmental Assessment completed in 2019.

Partial removal means:

  • The concrete superstructure of the dam will stay in place, while the mechanical components, control building, and the steel gates that currently sit on the bed of the river will be removed;
  • Improvements will be made to address the superstructure’s stability, including ongoing preventative maintenance, and a safety inspection program; and,
  • Downstream of the dam, along the south shore of the Thames River, approximately 175m of concrete bank will be removed and restored with a naturalized shoreline with plantings and habitat improvements.

The Springbank Dam


Site preparations for the decommissioning of Springbank Dam will begin in Spring 2024, including tree removals. Active construction is anticipated to occur between late-July and December 2024. Final restoration works within Springbank Park are planned for Spring 2025. Detours through Springbank Park will be established for pathway users and identified through signage in the park.

Above: This map shows the Springbank Dam construction area and signed Thames Valley Parkway detour that will be in place.




Thames River Projects 2024 – Project Update Meeting

The City of London hosted a drop in project meeting to share the detailed designs of the Springbank Dam partial removal project as well as improvements being made to Harris Park. These projects are both implementations of the One River Master Plan Environmental Assessment, completed in 2019. The meeting was held on January 31, 2024 inside Fleetway Bowling Centre (The Spare Room) between 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.


About this project

The Springbank Dam decommissioning project is scheduled for construction in summer 2024. The design of the project is based on the preferred option of “Partial Removal” recommended by the One River Master Plan Environmental Assessment completed in 2019.

Partial removal means:

  • The concrete superstructure of the dam will stay in place, while the mechanical components, control building, and the steel gates that currently sit on the bed of the river will be removed;
  • Improvements will be made to address the superstructure’s stability, including ongoing preventative maintenance, and a safety inspection program; and,
  • Downstream of the dam, along the south shore of the Thames River, approximately 175m of concrete bank will be removed and restored with a naturalized shoreline with plantings and habitat improvements.

The Springbank Dam


Site preparations for the decommissioning of Springbank Dam will begin in Spring 2024, including tree removals. Active construction is anticipated to occur between late-July and December 2024. Final restoration works within Springbank Park are planned for Spring 2025. Detours through Springbank Park will be established for pathway users and identified through signage in the park.

Above: This map shows the Springbank Dam construction area and signed Thames Valley Parkway detour that will be in place.




Thames River Projects 2024 – Project Update Meeting

The City of London hosted a drop in project meeting to share the detailed designs of the Springbank Dam partial removal project as well as improvements being made to Harris Park. These projects are both implementations of the One River Master Plan Environmental Assessment, completed in 2019. The meeting was held on January 31, 2024 inside Fleetway Bowling Centre (The Spare Room) between 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

  • Background information

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    The Springbank Dam in London, Ontario was constructed with the purpose of raising water levels to promote recreational activity on the Thames River, including rowing, canoeing and operation of ferry boats. A recreational dam was operational within the Thames River near this location for over 130 years, from the 1870s to 2006. Historically, the dam was set up each summer (during low flows) by placing stop logs within the openings of the superstructure.

    On July 9, 2000, the dam was damaged by a severe flood. A 2003 Environmental Assessment (EA) process was undertaken and recommended that the dam be repaired and that new mechanical gates be installed to remove the manual installation of the stop logs. The mechanical gate design was tendered for construction. However, in 2008, one of the new gates failed to function during testing. This gate failure led to a lengthy litigation process. In 2015, the City of London reached an out of court settlement.

    In 2017, the City of London initiated an Environmental Assessment (EA) on a portion of the Thames River, between Boler Road bridge to the Forks of the Thames River and Harris Park, titled One River Master Plan Environmental Assessment (Jacobs, 2019). One of the purposes of the One River EA was to confirm the future of the Springbank Dam within an updated policy framework. Since the time of the 2003 EA, several new government policies and procedures had been enacted, most notably the Ontario Species at Risk Act (2007).

    Commencing in 2017, the One River Master Plan Environmental Assessment (One River EA) evaluated three possible futures for the Springbank Dam: Do nothing, reinstate the dam, or, allow the Thames River to flow freely by removing the function of the dam.

    After listening to the voices of the London community, First Nations, and governing provincial and federal government agencies, a list of criteria evaluated the three options in consideration of technical, social/cultural, environmental, and economic considerations. Through this public evaluation process, it was determined that the free-flowing river option was preferred. This decision was endorsed by Council in January 2018. A free-flowing river promotes overall river system health by improving water quality, fish passage/migration, and promotes continued lifecycles for wildlife along shoreline nesting sites.

    The next step in the One River EA process was to determine how the dam would be modified to allow for a free-flowing river. Three alternatives included: Do nothing, partially remove the dam structure, or, to fully remove the dam structure. Technical, social/cultural, environmental, and economic criteria considered the options, and the partial dam removal was selected as the preferred option as follows:

    • Restore a free-flowing Thames River by the decommissioning and partial removal of the Springbank Dam (i.e., removal of dam gates, and mechanical and hydraulic components).
    • Rehabilitate a large area of existing concrete shoreline which is located on the south shore stream of the dam.

    Public consultation took place throughout the One River EA process in 2017 and 2018, including two Phases of a Public and First Nations Consultation and Engagement Program. The consultation process included introducing the EA itself, gathering constructive, solutions-based input about the EA, providing appropriate links and resources for all stakeholders to better understand the project, inform the ultimate selection of an alternative for each of the components of the EA , and continuously monitor the success of the Public and First Nations Consultation and Engagement program.

    In May 2019, a Notice of Completion was issued for the One River Master Plan Environmental Assessment. The One River EA report can be found on the City’s website at london.ca/projects/one-river-environmental-assessment

    In February 2021, the design of the Springbank Dam Decommissioning project began. The project design and decommissioning approach will be reviewed and permitted by federal agencies including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Transport Canada as well as provincial agencies such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport (MTCS), and the UTRCA. Upon receipt of all necessary permits, construction is anticipated to begin in late July 2024 and extend to late fall 2024.

    The Springbank Dam has not been operated since before the failure in 2008 (15 years ago). The project will remove the mechanical gates and retain the concrete superstructure in accordance with the EA recommendations. The ultimate condition results in effectively “no change” to recent river conditions and allows for a free-flowing river throughout the year. The dam was not used for flood control purposes, therefore, there is no change to flood hazard management.

Page last updated: 31 May 2024, 01:05 PM