Ministry seeks partners on Sherborne Lake Road
By Chad Ingram
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is looking for some help with the maintenance of Sherborne Lake Road, south of Dorset.
“The ministry is saying, ‘we can’t continue to fund this road, can you come to the table?’” Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt told councillors at a Nov. 5 meeting.
Sherborne Lake Road, which is essentially a logging road, snakes its way from Highway 35 to the water body, about 12 kilometres through the bush.
Moffatt had suggested to the ministry that if it paid to have the road brought up to municipal standards, the township would look at assuming it.
That upgrade could cost up to $2.2 million.
“In consideration of the MNRF‘s current mandate and priorities as it relates to the Sherborne Lake Road, the ministry is not able to secure $1.83 to $2.2 million to upgrade the road to municipal standards for the purpose of divestment at this time,” David May, a resources supervisor with the ministry’s Bancroft office, wrote in a letter to Moffatt dated Aug. 5. “In light of this, MNRF would welcome the opportunity to resume discussions about potential partnership options regarding the future use and maintenance of Sherborne Lake Road.”
The road is used by hunters and fisherman and also to access Algonquin Highlands camp sites that are part of the township’s water trails system.
The revenue from the sites off Sherborne Lake Road equate to about $16,000 annually.
“The water trails system could be modified,” said Moffatt. “The only people who use the road [are from] Algonquin Highlands. How long would it be or not be before Algonquin Highlands became the sole manager of a provincial asset?”
It was clear the reeve is prepared to let the ministry do as it will with the road
“I’m already at the no-thank-you stage,” Moffatt said.
Other councillors weren’t so sure, requesting more information on the mater.
“I don’t think we should turn it down at this point,” said Councillor Marlene Kyle, adding she would like to see more info.
Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen agreed.
“MNRF is working with other government agencies, Bancroft Minden Forest Company and the Municipality of Algonquin Highlands in an effort to develop a partnership to maintain the Sherborne Lake forest access road,” MNRF media relations officer Jolanta Kowalski wrote in an email to the paper. “MNRF is not actively seeking to divest Sherborne Lake forest access road at this time.”