Canning Lake dam replacement halted
The Canning Lake dam and nearby bridge – better known as Scott’s Dam Bridge – will not be replaced by Parks Canada as planned,
In a recent report to Minden Hills council, roads superintendent Travis Wilson noted the project, part of series of dam replacements and repairs being done by the federal government throughout the Trent Severn Waterway system, was not going ahead.
Council voted back in 2016 to allow Parks Canada to remove and replace the dam, that project to include a pedestrian walkway on top of the structure. Scott’s Dam bridge, once an automotive bridge, has been closed to traffic for many decades, but is used by area residents as a walkway.
“On June 20, [Parks Canada] said they no longer had this project on the books anymore,” Wilson told councillors at a recent meeting. “They found the structure was in better condition than they initially suggested it was in.”
Wilson said the township would perform an inspection of the bridge and present the findings to council.
“We are going to be looking at the structure a little more in-depth in 2018 . . . and getting a report back to council, as to whether there’s an interest in rehabilitating it, or just improving the safety of it a little bit,” Wilson said.
“As for Parks Canada, they don’t have a timeline for this project; it’s basically off the charts,” Wilson added.
Mayor Brent Devolin said the feds were running out of money for the dam projects.
“They thought there was enough money to do this,” Devolin said, pointing out that some projects, such as the replacement of the Horseshoe Lake dam, have run over schedule and over budget.
The replacement of the Horseshoe Lake dam which began in early 2017, has now been divided into two phases, and an invitation to tender for the second phase of that project will be going out in coming weeks, according to Parks Canada.
“So, the pot’s empty,” Devolin said, adding there was an expectation there would be another round of funding announced to complete projects.
Parks Canada says the Scott’s Dam project has been “deferred” to a future date.
“The project to replace the dam at the outflow of Canning Lake (also known to some as Scott’s Dam) has been deferred to a future date based on the results of the investigative work that revealed the dam was in better condition than anticipated,” reads an email from communications staff at Parks Canada. “These investigation included more comprehensive assessments of concrete and soil conditions and revealed that while the dam will eventually require recapitalization, its life can be safely extended through a program of monitoring and routine maintenance as required.”
As for the Horseshoe Lake dam, “the first phase of the construction at the Horseshoe Lake dam project completed the west side of the dam, including new piers and one full sluice with a concrete deck,” the email from Parks Canada reads. “Pedestrian access and visitor area were improved, and an employee parking area was installed for Parks Canada dam operators. Continued challenges in maintaining a dry worksite within the cofferdam, combined with above-average water flows and levels throughout the winter and summer of 2017 contributed to the delays in the project. Parks Canada made the decision to close the existing construction contract and re-tender the remainder of the project. As a part of the next phase of construction, sluices two, three and four will be fully replaced.”
Another project was to replace the dam at Twelve Mile Lake where it enters Mountain Lake near Highway 35. Residents may have noticed construction fencing around the structure.
“In 2017, the project to replace the Twelve Mile Lake dam advanced to the construction phase,” the email from Parks Canada reads. “Above-average seasonal flows during 2017 caused the originally planned construction phasing to be unachievable, and the decision was taken to postpone construction until 2018.”
According to Parks Canada, an invitation to tender for the Twelve Mile project will be going out in coming weeks as well.
There will be further study before planned work is performed on the dams at the bottom of Gull Lake, work that was expected to increase outflows at the site, thereby helping to mitigate flooding during the spring freshet.
“The work proposed for the dams at the outflow of Gull Lake had entailed the repair of concrete and the improvement of some public safety features such as guard rails and signage,” reads the email from Parks Canada. “After discussions with representatives of Minden Hills and the Upper Trent Watershed Water Management Partnership, construction work was postponed to allow time for additional study of water flow conditions in the area. This study will help to determine whether the existing dam is providing sufficient capacity and what the up and down stream impacts might be of alterations at this site.”
Work that had been scheduled for dams at White Lake in Dysart et al and Jack Lake in the municipality of North Kawartha will also not be proceeding as planned.
“Infrastructure projects were initially put forward based on preliminary investigations and the results of the ongoing monitoring,” the email reads. “More comprehensive investigations have in some cases demonstrated that particular projects do not need to be done right away and can be undertaken in years to come. This includes work at Canning Lake, Jack Lake and White Lake. In these cases work will still be undertaken, however a date is not yet known.”
Between 2015 and 2016 the federal government announced $570 million for work on infrastructure throughout the TSW system, $40 million of it allotted for dams projects in Haliburton County.
Work at Bob Lake, Halls Lake, Loon Lake, as well the replacement of the dam at Kennisis Lake, has been completed.