Algonquin Highlands staff are seeking public feedback over the summertime use of the Skin Lake boat launch as the township gets going with its docks and landings improvement program.

Addressing council Feb. 3, Chris Card, parks, recreation and trails manager, said the Skin Lake site was the first location identified through the municipality’s asset management plan for upgrades. Presently, the site has a gravel approach down to the lake, retaining wall and wooden dock.

Card wants to replace the existing launch and fixed dock with a more environmentally-friendly option, something that councillors seemed to appreciate.

“It is possible that the current level of service could continue to be provided by removing the retaining wall and cantilevered dock feature, naturalizing the shoreline area to the extent possible and installing a gangway to [a] floating dock,” Card noted in his report.

The municipality will be putting out an RFP to bring a consultant in to advise on the project, while Card will be distributing a questionnaire to the 34 waterfront property owners fronting Skin Lake to hear what they’d like to see done with the redevelopment.

He hopes to complete the planning phase during the spring so that construction can be done in September. The municipality has set aside $95,000 for the project, although Card noted that amount was based on a like-for-like replacement of the launch, rather than what he was now proposing.

Mayor Carol Moffatt was pleased to hear property owners in the area would have a say, but warned that just because they have a voice doesn’t mean their every demand would be followed.

“We may not be able to address all the needs and wants. I feel like we need to set the table here – this is the first time we’re working through this process and it could change from one landing to another,” Moffatt said. “The purpose [through the questionnaire] is to gather information that will allow for decisions to be made. It’s not for people to say ‘I want this in blue, that in green, and my own personalized parking space.”

Card said there will be eight questions on the survey, with an aim to finding out the extent of winter use of the site (snowmobiles and ice fishing); extent of day users versus lake residents or property owners; if there’s a need for additional parking; historical water level information; and identifying any other locations on the lake residents launch from that can be used during construction.

There are 27 municipal docks and landings across Algonquin Highlands slated for improvements through this program.