Water Everywhere, But Where to Swim?

Last month there were some interesting discussions on lake use.  One, a small local issue with larger community impacts, is about a little Canoe Lake beach.

Canoe Lake Public Access

At the west end of the James Wilson Road causeway that separates Canoe Lake from Ell Lake, is a small naturally sandy entrance to Canoe Lake.  For many years local community residents have used this access point to swim in the lake.  For much of that time the owner of the land next to the entrance (maybe the owner of the land, the boundaries are unclear) has complained about the area residents using this beach. There has also been an occasional issue of parking along James Wilson road both from use of the beach and from use of the boat launch also on the causeway.

The owner recently applied to create three lots, through a process called consent, which, within certain restrictions, is allowed on the lake.  They will be large lots and there are no significant planning concerns about the creation of these lots. One stipulation in the consent process is that the land owner must deed to the Township five per cent of the land for park purposes or pay the Township cash in lieu of land.  Almost always in consent applications the Township takes the money.  Taking the actual land for public parks happens more often in larger subdivisions.

Some of the area residents made the case that this would be a good opportunity to use the parkland provisions to create a small parkette to improve access to the lake and provide safe parking.  It would also decrease conflict in the area because public access to the sandy beach would be clear.  The James Wilson Road is not a busy road, nor is use likely to increase dramatically, and while many local residents use the beach it is most often empty.

For me the issue is both how we provide good public access to our lakes and how we keep our lakes in good condition.  Our lakes are the whole community’s assets.  This is recognized in our Official Plan which states that one of our Township’s goals is to “to secure land located along shorelines for public uses.”  The Canoe Lake beach parkette (it is not big enough to qualify as a park) is one of those rare opportunities to gain access to one of our lakes on a naturally sandy shore.  It would benefit the entire community and increase safety along James Wilson Road. If we miss this opportunity we will not get it again.

The issue is coming up for deputations at the November 10 Committee of the Whole meeting.  If you have an opinion on whether the Township should take parkland or money in this consent application please pass it along to me or come to the meeting.  Deputations are welcome.

Public Boat Launches

A similar discussion took place in our budget deliberations.

The Public Works Department, in their 2016 budget submission, proposed repairing six public boat launches, including Knowlton and Buck Lake’s, at a cost of sixty thousand dollars. These two public boat launches in Loughborough District are in serious need of repair, to the point of being difficult to use.  Concerns have also being raised about the boat launch on the Desert Lake causeway, but that is more complicated due to ownership issues.

During the discussion at Committee of the Whole it was raised that many lake associations would not support the Township fixing the ramps because the lake residents wanted to decrease access to the lakes.  This has not been my experience.  First, many cottagers use the ramps to get their boats in and out of the lake.  Second, most cottagers and lake residents recognize that lakes are a common asset and what they are concerned about is protecting the quality of the lakes and preserving this asset.  Good, ecologically sensitive use of our lakes applies equality to cottagers, lake residents, the general public and developers. I believe this is also the goal of the current Council.

The discussion at the Committee of the Whole ended with general support for the inclusion of the boat launch repairs in the budget.  If you have any comments on this issue please pass them along.

Budget 2%

A final note, we are deep into the 2016 budget discussion and our goal is to keep the local tax increase to two percent.

I would like to know your opinion on any of the above issues as well as any other concerns you may have.  Please give me a call, 532-7846, or send me an email.

I put new snow tires on this week.  The cost was outrageous, but the snow will come and it still seems like a good idea. I look forward to seeing you around the township.

About Ross Sutherland

retired nurse, researcher, public health care activist.
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