Look at all options, imagine the possibilities

By MPP Toby Barrett

“This circular discussion cannot continue.” – Ron Keating

We on this part of Lake Erie are blessed with significant wetlands including the marshes of Long Point and the Lower Grand, even upper Silver Lake in Port Dover. Over the years, they have been altered by man-made structures –Dunnville Dam, Long Point causeway, as well as Ivey’s and Misner’s Dams in Dover.

Over the past three years, Silver Lake has been a bone of contention as the county continues to deliberate.

But there is hope. After hitting bottom, often new paths and new opportunities present themselves.

With a bit of luck, continued hard work and working together, goals can be achieved. Management is required – planning, organization, leadership, oversight and control – in the case of Silver Lake, cost control and flood control.

When you have a mission – in this case a mission “To restore and enhance Silver Lake and its environs for the benefit of Norfolk County” – when you know where you want to go, you often get there.

It will take time, and there will be other setbacks, but eventually you will make it.

Delhi’s Quance Dam on Big Creek is an example of success. We had it rebuilt. The Delhi District Anglers Association was a funding partner in the project, with significant funding from the former Township of Delhi, Long Point Region Conservation Authority, and the Ministry of Natural Resources. Funding also involved the Community Wildlife Involvement Program and TD Friends of the Environment, as well as the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission for an inflatable lamprey eel barrier downstream.

Quance Dam saw a number of organizations working together. Again, we saw success through co-operation, coordination and negotiation. Quance holds back the water – augmenting a beautiful park right in the town of Delhi.

From what I’m told, the crucial factor for who pays for dam upgrades is ownership. Dams on Grand River have largely been bankrolled through the Grand River Conservation Authority. Provincial funding provides assistance through the Water and Erosion Control Infrastructure Fund – an MNR fund, and sometimes the municipality helps out. Often, local municipalities are assessed a portion of the costs.

In my view, we could save Silver Lake separate from the issue of dealing with Misner’s Dam. Look at the Bird Studies Canada marsh in Port Rowan. With assistance from Ducks Unlimited and others, a pond was created that is filled from Dedrick’s Creek. In Port Dover, we could have a lake and the river flowing unobstructed. You don’t necessarily need the Lynn River to run through Silver Lake to bring back Silver Lake – perhaps a culvert to access water from the river at the north end, and a large rock barrier at the south. A berm or levee could be created that would separate the two.

My point? We’ve had a major setback after three years. We have an opportunity to look at other options, to consider the alternatives, to consider the possibilities! There is expertise locally to deal with this problem. We need to move forward with it.

Ever bearing in mind, we are blessed with a unique setting of the Lynn River, Ivey’s, Silver Lake, Misner’s, Black Creek and Lake Erie. We’re blessed – right across Haldimand-Norfolk with natural resources. Let’s seize those opportunities.