Making sure Grand Bend’s harbour is open for business

Lambton Shores will spend up to $10,000 on emergency dredging to make sure boats can get to the municipal boat launch and gas dock.

Water levels are at their lowest point since recording began in the early 1900s and boaters have been having a hard time getting into the harbour. Brett Kittmer, director of community services, in a report to council says the water levels are so low that if nothing is done this year, some larger boats simply won’t be able to make it to the gas bar. “Staff has received reports from boaters that they had issues hitting the bottom at the municipal gas docks during the 2012 boating season,” he says.

Mayor Bill Weber says council has decided to spend up to $10,000 to dredge in two areas. The federal government, which owns the harbour, may also contribute up to $5,000. Weber believes its money well spent.

“That’s where a lot of our revenue comes from…the rentals and the dockage makes that a break even business unit when it is full and operating,” he says. “If we don’t have 40 percent of our docks to lease out, revenue is going to be down.”

But he says there is only so much the municipality can do. Weber says the silt will be removed but the municipality can’t begin to dig out the clay bottom of the river. It holds the steel seawalls in place. “When it gets down to the clay level, that’s where I have real concerns with the seawall…we can’t take that away because the wall will fall over,” he says.

Weber adds if water levels continue to fall there will be little the municipality can do. “You cannot change Mother Nature.”