Island marinas will float your boat

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Low water levels a concern but everyone still in business

MANITOULIN—Marinas across Manitoulin Island will be open for business this boating season, but many have had to come up with proactive approaches from rearranging docks to dredging in order to make this possible due to this year’s record low water levels.

“The important thing to recognize is that everyone (all the marinas) will be open this season,” Stan Ferguson, North Channel Marine Tourism Council chair and owner of Harbor Vue Marina in Little Current, told The Expositor on Monday. “At our last meeting (in late April) we did a marina overview and everyone is looking like they are in pretty good shape, despite the low water levels.”

“The important thing to recognize is that everyone (all the marinas) will be open this season,” Stan Ferguson, North Channel Marine Tourism Council chair and owner of Harbor Vue Marina in Little Current, told The Expositor on Monday. “At our last meeting (in late April) we did a marina overview and everyone is looking like they are in pretty good shape, despite the low water levels.”

Mr. Ferguson said that personally, at Harbor Vue Marina he applied for, and received, a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in February of this year for dredging, but due to thin ice, he was unable to complete the dredging.

“The ice was not good enough to hold the machine and after the ice went out it was too late in the season, so we have put the dredging on hold,” explained Mr. Ferguson. “We will be okay for the summer, though. The water is coming up and we are just going to rearrange the docks to accommodate the bigger boats.”

Gore Bay staff told The Expositor its docks will also be okay for the summer boating season.

“We are still in good shape,” said town clerk/CAO Annette Clark. “We haven’t had to do any dredging.”

In Providence Bay, the marina operated by the Algoma-Manitoulin Harbour Authority, will also be open for the season, but will be in need of action by the fall.

“The marina is going to be full this season already, and we don’t need to do anything right now as the water level is still safe for boating,” explained Providence Bay dockmaster Ken Niles, “but come fall we will either have to put another metal plate in or do some dredging.”

The docks will be going in this week in Providence Bay, with the Algoma-Manitoulin Harbour Authority working on completing a dredging request to the MNR by the end of this week.

At Boyle Marine in Little Current, owner Pat Boyle said the water is coming up and his marina will be fine for this season.

Township of Assiginack clerk/treasurer Alton Hobbs had a similar response as well.

“We don’t need to dredge,” Mr. Hobbs told The Expositor. “The water is still safe for boating. The marina is in Manitowaning Bay, so it is not as adversely effected as other areas on the Island. We expect the docks will be in some time this week.”

In Meldrum Bay, harbourmaster Patsy Gilchrist relayed that no dredging was planned, but that docks might have to be re-arranged this season.

“The water level is low all over including here,” said Ms. Gilchrist, “but we are still going to be in operation. We just put in new finger docks last year and a new wharf last fall. We have a community meeting this week and once we get the docks in we will know what we have to move around to make everything work.”

“We have put an application in for dredging,” Billings Mayor Austin Hunt said regarding the status of Kagawong’s marina. “We haven’t heard back yet, but we are hoping to do some dredging of some sandbanks here and there. We will be open this season as the pier has lots of water, but hopefully we hear back from the MNR.”

Lastly, back in Little Current, the Northeast Town’s Spider Bay Marina received a dredging permit from the MNR and completed work on the marina last week.

“The town hired Belanger to complete the work, which brought in an excavator and scraped the bottom, doing some maintenance dredging,” explained town CAO David Williamson. “We hoped to recapture six inches to a foot from the project. It was step one of our process, costing $15,000. Our next move is to shuffle some docks and utilize our existing infrastructure to host our marina traffic. We will be fully operational and open for the season.”

“The town hired Belanger to complete the work, which brought in an excavator and scraped the bottom, doing some maintenance dredging,” explained town CAO David Williamson. “We hoped to recapture six inches to a foot from the project. It was step one of our process, costing $15,000. Our next move is to shuffle some docks and utilize our existing infrastructure to host our marina traffic. We will be fully operational and open for the season.”

The Georgian Bay Mayors Coalition, a group of mayors from Owen Sound to Parry Sound who are meeting and holding community gatherings to discuss the impact of low water levels on lakefront municipalities, released a casebook earlier this year on the harms caused by low water levels in Georgian Bay this season.

The casebook states that 24 marinas will be effected by the low water levels this season, in addition to 20 government facilities and 10 private businesses, with a monetary impact of $2,650,000.

Robin Burridge


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