Algonquin Highlands mayor Liz Danielsen has reiterated her council’s commitment to finding a long-term solution for residents requiring boat access to the Boshkung chain of lakes, though warned there will be no quick fix.

Those with property on Twelve Mile, Boshkung, and Little Boshkung lakes have been left scrambling after it was announced last month Wedgewood RPM – the only marina with full-service boat launching capabilities in the area – is closing.

RPM Marinas general manager, Cheryl Downs, said the Wedgewood property has been sold and will not be operating as a marina under the new ownership. While people will be able to use the facility to get their boats on the water, it won’t be open in the fall for boat removal and storage.

The three impacted lake associations have appealed to Algonquin Highlands and Minden Hills townships to intervene.

Chris Card, Algonquin Highlands’ parks, recreation, and trails manager, told council May 2 there aren’t many options for local staff to pursue. Algonquin Highlands operates a nearby boat launch on Hwy. 118, into Little Boshkung Lake. Card said the water is very shallow at the site, making it unsuitable for most large boats.

He said dredging the site – excavating sand and other surface materials underwater – would likely be too expensive, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and take several years to complete. Card couldn’t say for sure, even after all the effort, whether it would work.

“In my opinion, just doing a quick assessment of the soil conditions there, it seems unlikely,” Card said. “It’s a large sandbar. The shallow area is a couple of football fields in size… you’d need to dredge 200 metres into the lake, and even then, I think the sand would fill right back in.”

He recommended council hire a consultant to provide a more professional opinion, which they agreed to do at a cost of up to $5,000.

Danielsen said she has had several discussions with Minden Hills counterpart Bob Carter. She believes the townships can work together to address the issue. One suggestion is for them to work with another resort property on Twelve Mile Lake – Twin Lakes Resort, which was recently taken over by new owners – to install a new launch.

Card indicated this was likely the most costeffective way of dealing with the issue, while Danielsen added it was the only solution she could envisage being ready by the fall.

“Steps are being taken to find out what the legal implications are, and what the access possibilities would be. Right now, [Minden] is agreeable in assessing that as a possibility,” Card said.

Minden Hills owns a stretch of shoreline along Twelve Mile, though it can only be accessed by private property. Minden council would need to authorize any deal.

No way to intervene

Algonquin Highlands coun. Sabrina Richards asked if staff had been in touch with the new owners of the Wedgewood RPM property to see if they’d be willing to keep the launch in until fall. Danielsen said the township still doesn’t know who the new owner is.

“This has come out of nowhere that we have been put into this position,” Richards said, asking if the township had any authority to reverse the sale, or negotiate a new deal. She suggested the launch area be removed from any agreement, and that Algonquin Highlands and Minden Hills submit a joint bid to buy it.

CAO Angie Bird advised against, saying there would likely be legal ramifications. Even if successful, she said that option would be “a long way down the road.”

Card suggested if the township was considering purchasing private property to house a new launch, there may be other areas on the lake chain to consider.

Danielsen said council needed to be mindful of its other projects and priorities, particularly surrounding docks and landings.

“We have other lakes that have no access points. I know we’re going to hear ‘well if you’re going to develop a new private boat launch there, what about us?’ and it’s a really good question,” Danielsen said. “We just don’t know what’s going to be feasible.

“There’s a real anxiety from people for us to do something… there’s so many steps involved in trying to do any kind of upgrade at the Hwy. 118 site. It just won’t happen this year. Things don’t work that quickly in a municipality with the levels of approval we need to get,” she added. “I don’t see a solution being in place by this fall.”