Black Lake cottager Peter Fry would love nothing more than to take his seven-year-old granddaughter to Minden by boat.
But with Parks Canada taking out the boat rollers and putting in booms for safety reasons about four years ago, Fry, other Black, Gull and Moore lakes cottagers, plus Kilco Camp kids haven’t been able to make the trip.
However, Minden by boat may soon be possible again as proponents, including Minden Hills councillor Pam Sayne, continue to talk with Parks Canada and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) about the return of a safe portage.
“Please bring them [the boat rollers] back so that current and future generations can once again go to Minden by boat,” Fry said in a written presentation Sayne made to Minden Hills council last month.
Sayne said that after a series of meetings with Parks Canada and the MTO, proponents are getting closer to again having a portage at Moore Falls.
Sayne said the most recent meeting was on Oct. 16.
“It’s not going to be as difficult as we intended because of the co-operation from the MTO and Parks Canada,” she told The Highlander.
Following an online petition and protest that saw Highway 35 at the dam blocked in 2017 so canoeists could portage across the road, Sayne said “people recognize there was a better way to work on this together. We’re doing it and we’re making progress and there will be a portage there.”
While it’s still early days and no agreements are yet in place, Sayne said Parks Canada and the MTO hired a consultant to come up with portage options and they now have a preferred option. She noted a portage would be adjacent to Lutterworth Park.
She said they would be putting a call out for someone to volunteer to design and build infrastructure to make the proposed portage more user-friendly.
She noted Parks Canada is maintaining the booms, just aligning them in a way to make it easier to portage.
A spokeswoman for Parks Canada, Valerie de Winter, said a site visit was conducted Oct. 16 by representatives from Minden Hills, the MTO and Parks Canada.
“Parks Canada continues to work with the Township of Minden Hills and the Ministry of Transportation to review and to develop a solution for the portage route,” she said.
“Given the complexities of the site, a safe portage route has to be carefully and fully analyzed prior to implementation.”
She said visitor safety was of the “utmost importance” to Parks Canada, as dams present “a real risk to visitor safety, particularly when water levels and flows are higher than normal. Safety is a shared responsibility, and all visitors (boaters and land-based) should exercise caution around and on the water and stay well clear of dams,” de Winter said.