After grappling with two major floods in the past decade, the town of Bracebridge is moving forward with plans to dredge the Muskoka River.
During the most recent Bracebridge General Committee meeting, councillors approved a report that calls for a $5.9 million plan to remove siltation from the mouth of the river in Bracebridge.
Under the plan proposed by staff, disposal of dredged material would take place on land by
loading material onto a barge and unloading into trucks at a nearby commercial barge
facility. Staff said the benefits of reusing the materials for suitable applications could assist in the reduction of the demands on virgin aggregates for road work, and quarry or pit remediation.
Council had some interesting suggestions on how to use the material, such as using it to sand roadways or even potentially creating a new island, like Montreal’s Notre Dame Island, which was built from 15 million tons of excavated rock used in the construction of Montreal’s Metro system in 1965.
While the Town’s director of public works, Geoff Carleton, said reusing the material was the preferred option, he cautioned that it’s uses were limited. He also pointed out that while the river runs through the middle of town, it does not technically belong to the Town. It’s actually under the authority of Transport Canada and the land and water resources under the authority of the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.
“Any expenses will be in support of a non-Town asset,” said Carleton.
However, he also pointed out that Phase 1 of the project, a $90,000 study, was paid for by the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks. Carleton said staff will continue to work with the government to see if they can help foot the bill, but Coun. Archie Buie wondered why the District wasn’t taking a more active role. He said the river was once a major travel route, and the District should help out, much like they do for major roads in the region.
“This is a shared problem…not simply a lower-tier issue,” he said.
Staff were authorized to circulate the report with a number of agencies, in hopes they can start getting approvals to move forward with the project.
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