STD back in “Cambridge council chambers.

STD back in “Cambridge council chambers.

Have you heard? STD is once again been discussed in the chamber of Cambridge City Council. I think this is the fifth council to discuss it.

Get your mind out of the gutter; it’s not Sexually Transmitted Disease they’re talking about. 


City staff is recommending to the council that big boulders be put in front of the north control structure, similar to what they did in front of the south control structure back in 2008. 

According to the report from city staff this “will require permits and approvals from the appropriate review agencies.”

I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. 

First I would think city staff will or should look like a dog with its tail between its leg, out of utter embarrassment. 

I kind of picture the conversation going something like this:

“C” = city of Cambridge

“M” = Ministry

C: Hi, it’s the city of Cambridge calling. How’s your day going?

M: What is it this time?

C: Oh, not much, I just need a little favour regarding that dam on the Speed River in Preston. You know, the one in Riverside Park.

M: The same one you called us about 15 years ago; the one we gave you permission to rebuild.

C: Yeah, that one. Well anyway, you know how back then you gave us permission to dump some rocks in front of the south control structure, well, now we would like to do the same thing in front of the north control structure. 

M: Why?

C: Well, the north control structure is falling apart and we’re afraid it might fail. 

M: Let me get this straight. You’re afraid the north control structure might fail on a dam that in 2011 you said was in danger of collapsing at anytime. The dam that we told you could be rebuilt. And just what is this going to cost?

C: It’s only going to be about $200,000.00

M: And does that include removing the stones when the dam is rebuilt?

C: Well, no.

M: And just how much more is that going to cost?

C: Well, we haven’t thought that far ahead.

M: So you want another band-aid to put on a gaping wound? How do we know you won’t be back in a couple years looking for another temporary fix? How many more bandages are you going to want? 

C: How do I know, I’m not a fortune teller. But now that you mention it the walls on both the north and south sides of the river have problems. We’re putting fencing up around the south one to keep people away from the “dangerous” edge. 

M: What would happen if instead of another band-aide you were to put that money toward completing the design detail and rebuilt the dam like you said you were going to do in the first place. By the way how much have you spent on this so far? 

C: It’s only $900,000.00 so far.

M: So if we give you permission to put these stones in front of the north control structure you will have spent 1.1 Million dollars and you still have a failing dam!

C: This whole thing is really your fault you know. We told the city council and the public that you wouldn’t give permission for a dam rebuild. We had them believing it and then you ruined everything by telling them the truth. 

M: So you’re just dragging your feet and blaming someone else? 

C: It’s worked before. We dragged our feet on the Preston Springs until there was little else that could be done but tear it down and we could do it again. We just need a little co-operation from you.

M: So you want us to help you drag your feet? 

$900,000.00 and what do we have to show for it?

Fifteen years and $900,000.00 and what do we have to show for it? If the council accepts the staff recommendation and puts rocks in front of the north control tower it is just a case of throwing good money after bad. That is not fiscal responsibility. 

The plans for the rebuild are apparently 60% complete, and the last council under Mayor McGarry put a hold on the plans. 

We need every citizen that loves Riverside Park the way it is (and that includes the millpond) to write to council and tell them we want the new dam to be built. You only need to send one e-mail to

In the staff report to council, they now mention the walls on either side of the river are falling apart and need work. What amazes me is no one had determined the cause of this rather sudden damage.  (Sudden in comparison to the fact the dam has been there for something like 150 years.) What has changed in the last quarter century that has caused all this damage? 

I visited the area of the dam today (February 7th, 2023) and took a few more pictures of what I saw.

Please take a minute and write council now. 

They need to hear from you before the meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.  If you have time join us in council chambers. 


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