KAWARTHA LAKES – Approximately 95 Pleasant Point Road residents have signed a petition to have a culvert constructed under the roadway in hopes of improving water flow in the canal. Residents say rotting vegetation, stagnant water and an abundance of flies and mosquitoes continue to build and cause concern.
At a recent council meeting, concerned citizen Colleen Cook presented photos and a petition to council, requesting that a culvert be constructed under Pleasant Point Road, just outside of Lindsay. According to Cook, the culvert would act as a connection from the canal to Kennedy Bay, increasing waterflow as silt continues to gather.
“We are paying taxes for a waterfront that may soon not be waterfront,” said Cook. “The end of the canal is choked with weeds and the docks at the end are practically unusable, the weeds are so thick, we can’t get canoes and kayaks to the end.”
Cook also noted that the smell of decaying vegetation is overpowering during the summer months.
“I would invite you to take a walk down to Pleasant Point, you will see what we mean,” she said. “One long-time resident can’t enjoy his property due to the smell, we also have a big problem with mosquitos and flies due to stagnant water. The residents are all concerned about West Nile and disease vectors caused by this.”
According to Cook, the canal was built in the 1960s and stretches between Sturgeon Lake and Pleasant Point Road with approximately 65 residents with deeded access to the canal. When it was constructed, it was intended that a culvert be built under Pleasant Point Road which would have ensured continuous water flow and a healthy aquatic ecosystem, she added.
The culverts were never constructed according to the group.
“We are taxed for waterfront property, but we can’t launch boats and forget ever swimming off of the waterfront properties, we have been asking for a solution for last 50 years without assistance from any level of government,” said Cook. “We have reached a crisis point, if action is not taken soon to address the water flow issue, there may be no canal, we are asking for original work scheduled in the 60s be completed.”
Currently, sediment is filling the canal with one end sitting with only 18 inches of water. When the canal was originally constructed it was approximately four feet deep, said Cook.
Deputy Mayor Pat O’Reilly suggested Cook speak with the Trent Severn Waterway as it is their body of water.
“Who is going to dredge the canal, the marsh land to the east of Kennedy Bay,” he asked. “I don’t know how that would drain if a culvert was put in.”
According to Councillor O’Reilly, this is not municipal jurisdiction and a decision cannot be made until the Trent Severn Waterway is notified.
“We have to see what Trent Severn says, they have legislation to deal with it, let’s see what they have to say,” he said. “A culvert going to the east isn’t going to solve the problem, it is going to put water on lands that may be privately owned and they may have to dredge to the east to get the water away, and it may be an environmentally protected area”.
Unfortunately, weed and silt built-up is often inevitable and Pigeon, Scugog and Sturgeon lakes are all examples of this, Councillor O’Reilly added.
Cook noted that she has yet to approach the Trent Severn Waterway or Kawartha Conservation as residents felt the construction of a culvert is crucial at this time.
In 2014 Kawartha Conservation conducted a study of the Sturgeon Lake Watershed, which included the canal. According to Cook, they identified that the canal was becoming an issue with invasive aquatic species due to poor water flow and the study was adopted by council at that time. Recommendations were made to look into several proactive steps to improve the quality of the water, including aeration and treatment of the water.
“Dredging isn’t a favoured practice for canals due to impact on wildlife,” said Cook. “There are new technologies out there, primarily aeration, also using natural anaerobic bacteria that can digest plant matter and silt, gradually improving waterflow. There are several different areas that are using this successful technology, it all needs to be explored.”
According to City Councillor Ron Ashmore, this is an unfinished infrastructure project from the 1960s that is part of the Fenelon Township.
“This was always intended to be finished, the picture spells it all out, the congregation of sediment, it’s about waterflow, the health of the waterway and the people,” he said. “We have been trying to get it on the table and trying to get a solution, this is the first time in 50 years we have it at the council table, it’s a start.”
A report will come back to the council chambers for further information and a decision.