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First Nation pulls out of talks to determine fate of popular Nanaimo park

A woman walks along a path as water flows down from the lower lake dam above in Colliery Dam Park.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Globe and Mail

A bitter fight over the fate of a popular park in Nanaimo, B.C., has hit another snag with a Vancouver Island First Nation announcing it is quitting the consultation process.

The Snuneymuxw (snue-NEY'-mowk) First Nation issued a news release Wednesday night, abandoning a proposed 30-day consultation process and accusing Nanaimo officials of refusing to consider all options.

According to Chief Doug White, facilitator Katherine Gordon has also withdrawn, raising doubts about the future of a public meeting planned for July 25.

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White says his First Nation is still concerned about how dismantling two aging dams in Colliery Park will affect the band's traditional fishery on the Chase River, an issue he says the city refuses to address.

Two dams in the park are more than 100 years old and city staff say they are unsafe and must be demolished this summer, but critics are first demanding replacement plans for the two reservoirs, which serviced area coal mines at the turn of the 20th century.

The dams, and their reservoirs are the centrepiece of Colliery Dam park in Nanaimo's south end, and protesters are vowing civil disobedience if the structures are removed before the city explains how it will rebuild the popular swimming and recreational area.

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