On Sept. 3, there was a public open house at Barker Bay on the Lower Manitou put on by the Ministry of Natural Resources to outline the options for the Esox dam.
Before this poorly-planned meeting was put together, I contacted the MNR and asked what was going on with their dam. I was told they would contact the landowners and they would hold open houses.
The MNR knows when the majority of the public works, and it also knows that non-resident landowners who have children and grandchildren would be back at home on Sept. 3—getting their children back to school.
If the MNR wanted public input, they should have given the public more than two weeks to plan to make the trip, and also had the meeting in the summer months so the affected landowners would have been here.
I have no idea how many people showed up at the open house on Sept. 1 in Fort Frances, and the MNR didn’t give that info, but at the meeting at Barker Bay, there were 14 property owners represented.
This meeting was very poorly put together by the MNR team from Fort Frances. As well, they have a way of making people intimidated by telling them what is best for us and not having any answers to the important questions.
Like if they were to destroy this water system by removing this dam, is there an alternate solution so the residents and property owners can still access these lakes?
The MNR will have to put roads into the Upper and Lower Manitou, but who will be responsible to repair and extend docks. And are they prepared to give property owners additional land to compensate them for the areas that dry up in front of the properties so they can access them from the lake.
This team from the Fort Frances MNR office has had four years to plan this. I think I helped two years ago to derail the process, but they have no more answers now than they had then.
I asked if they had consulted any of the user groups over the past two years and they didn’t know.
So, I have come to the conclusion myself that for the little they know for the amount they have spent on this already, and from the land owners who were at the meeting in Barker Bay, we want the dam to stay.
Everyone was in favour of that. The rest of the process now should just be what types of dam and the best time to do it.
As I said earlier, I think that the residents should have access and this is very important. And I do believe this is an important waterway to the residents of Fort Frances, both as far as a central waterway to stop spring flooding and the Esox landing for the residents to have easy access.
Residents should ask the MNR what they are going to give you for access—and where it would be.
Please, if you have any interest, write the Fort Frances MNR and ask these questions.