The province has given the green light for the rebuilding of the Riverside Dam in Cambridge.

The multi-million dollar project has been debated for years, but now, with the province’s rubber stamp, the design process is expected to begin in the fall.

Now that the Minister of Environment has looked over all the factors, it was decided an assessment wasn’t needed. That means breaking ground on the project could happen by spring 2021.

The dam has been part of Preston’s heritage and stood in its spot for more than 150 years, but Cambridge Coun. Donna Reid says it’s at risk of falling apart.

“It could tumble down, it could be quite disastrous,” she says. “Especially if it took the train tracks with it.”

After debating what to do for years, the city voted unanimously in 2018 to repair it. Now, the province agrees.

“I am just pleased that we are getting near to the end and that we will be able to restore the dam,” Reid says. “I think for the people who live in Preston and beyond this is a very important part for people.”

In a letter to the city’s project engineer, the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks detailed why there’s no problem with moving ahead with the rebuild.

"The Minister is satisfied that the City selected a preferred alternative according to the requirements of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment and that the City has committed to design features that will mitigate the environmental impacts of rebuilding the dam," the ministry says in a statement.

The minister also reviewed issues that were flagged about rebuilding the dam and found that replacing it would not cause any new environmental impacts.

The city will now award the project to a consultant by the end of the summer, with the design plan starting in the fall.