New guardrails block lake access
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | August 17, 2017|
For 28 years, Dan Sauve has been able to access his Kushog Lake waterfront.
He’s come down the driveway from his house, crossed Highway 35, and walked down to the lake. In recent times, due to ill health, he’s driven his truck.
But that all ended last week when new guardrails went up that now block the dirt access road that leads to Sauve’s docks, ramp and watercraft.
“I can no longer go to the lake I’ve used for 28 years,” Sauve laments. “I’ve been cut off after getting the okay from the MTO (Ministry of Transportation) 28 years ago.”
Sauve and his neighbour, Art Morley, do cross under the guardrails and walk onto the access road for a photograph but it isn’t something Sauve can do often, or easily.
Due to a “terrible lung problem,” Sauve can’t walk up and down the driveway anymore and must take the pickup. So, for him, there isn’t an option of climbing under the guardrails or over them on a regular basis.
Others in Haliburton County have simply built steps to get over guardrails and Sauve said he’ll do the same. At least that way other members of his family can get to the lake.
Sauve said the guardrails also came out of the blue.
“There was no warning. One day we had access and the next week we didn’t.”
He is trying to figure out why other openings along the stretch have remained while his has been cut off. He said he even put up a sign imploring “please don’t block my access to the lake” but claims it was cast aside.
Morley, who’s lived on Kushog since 1984, has also used the access road in the past. He used it to go swimming and fishing. He, too, cannot understand how the MTO has blocked the road without any consultation with residents.
Sauve said he is also paying waterfront taxes of about $4,000-a-year, despite now not having access to the water. He is also worried that his property value will plummet.
“It’s very upsetting.”
Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt said she sympathizes with Sauve that his access to the water has been restricted or denied but there is nothing the township can do about it.
“It’s not within our jurisdiction. It’s not our land. It is fully an MTO decision,” she said.
An MTO spokeswoman said the guiderail being erected on Highway 35 in the Kushog Lake area “is intended to protect, or redirect wayward traffic from the existing lake.”
As for people, such as Sauve and Morley, being cut off from their access road, she said property on the east side of Highway 35 is private property owned by the MTO.
“We recognize that this may be an inconvenience, but alternate facilities are available on the lake,” she said. “Access to Kushog Lake is available from a private boat launch, at the Ox Narrows Resort, along with docking and parking. Kushog Lake can also be accessed via St. Nora’s Lake. There is a public boat launch, a dock and free overnight parking at the Frost Center/Haliburton Highlands Water Trails on Highway 35.”
When it comes to existing docks and stairs placed over guardrails, she said their presence and the use of the highway right-of-way to access the lake represents an unacceptable potential liability for the MTO and it is an offence punishable by fine.
The spokeswoman said the MTO will review the location of the docks and other structures to determine whether there is an immediate safety concern. If there is, the ministry will remove the docks and structures. If not, the ministry will allow the docks to remain in place.
The ministry will not issue any new permits for docks or associated structures within the highway right-of-way, she said.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.