The Jackson Park boat launch for small watercraft has been faced with issues of sand deposits and limited dredging means along the dynamic shoreline structure within Tiny Township.Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

As more residents flock to Tiny Township for its natural beauty and leisure facilities, more scrutiny is being given by the municipality to ensuring residents can enjoy their homes for years into the future.

Within several options, a recommendation for a $1.2 million breakwater ramp and coastal assessment for the Jackson Point launch ramp was floated by the committee of the whole recently through a presentation by professional engineer Bruce Pinchin of Shoreline Engineering Ltd.

Intended for personal watercraft of 45 cm (18 inches) depth or less, the launch ramp built in the 1990s was an upgrade from the original 1930s construction of a pier and breakwater, according to a 1999 Jackson Park master plan report.

In recent years, seasonal sand deposits have caused the township to react to getting the launch ready for the May 24 long weekend regardless of winter conditions, with attempts this year to dredge the area being met with difficulty as municipal equipment wasn’t adequate for the task.

“Jackson Point is a rocky, hard point,” explained Pinchin at the meeting. “It caused the formation of the beach to the south because it didn’t erode as much as the sandy shoreline.”

Pinchin led committee members through a detailed showing of maps and charts which detailed how sand affected the launch ramp area.

“In around the tip of the breakwater, it’s quite flat,” said Pinchin. “There’s this shelf area extending south of the breakwater that is not a natural sand deposit; it’s some kind of underlying hard deposit associated with the headland… is our assumption. Determining what that is, is something that would need to be looked at as part of a sediment transport analysis.”

A detailed study, as per the consultant recommendation, was estimated at $140,000. However, as Pinchin pointed out, accurate computer modelling data would be difficult to obtain due to the ever-changing structure of a dynamic sandy beach; a hypothetical storm before a data recording could alter the overall model.

“In terms of a concept solution, the issue here is that your existing ramp requires frequent dredging, (and that reason is) it’s located on a very gently sloped sand beach and the ramp has no sidewalls or berms to keep the sand off the ramp when that sand is moved by wave action,” explained Pinchin.

“The typical type of solution is to separate the ramp from the dynamic portion of the beach; and you do that by constructing side walls to the ramp.”

Pinchin displayed a slide for Tiny Township council and staff, which caught meeting chair Coun. Kelly Helowka on a hot mic saying: “How much is that going to cost?” 

An estimated cost of $820,000 was listed in the report designs.

Following the presentation, the township’s public works director, Tim Leitch, provided other options for committee members to consider: a continuation of sand removal knowing closures could happen, with a large dredge operation that could be planned for next year; the removal of the ramp altogether; and to have council direct staff elsewhere for more creative alternatives.

Coun. Steffen Walma asked Pinchin, “Even if we do the new breakwalls, we’re still going to be looking at dredging and ongoing maintenance of the site, just to a lesser degree?”

“No dredging after (it’s) initially built,” replied Pinchin, “but eventually the (dynamic) beach system will catch up to what you’ve done and you’ll be back doing some dredging. We can’t say how much but basically putting a launch ramp on a sandy shoreline, you are going to have sedimentation issues.”

Following on the heels of a question from Deputy Mayor Sean Miskimins regarding the allowance of launching larger watercraft in the township, Mayor Dave Evans added his comments.

“I think this issue gets lost sometimes when we talk about a boat launch, because that includes everybody’s boat; I see this strictly as a day-use facility, a small-use facility,” said Evans.

He agreed with Miskimins that the Jackson Park vehicle area would need to be looked at as well.

“I’m not prepared to see our dynamic shoreline get egregiously changed so somebody can come and put a 26-foot boat in when they don’t want to go over to Penetang and spend $100 and put it in there,” Evans said.

A vote taken was in favour to receive the report as information to support future operation and capital planning for the launch area.

The Jackson Park coastal assessment report, including a 1999 master plan, can be viewed within the agenda page located on the Tiny Township website.

Information on the dynamic shoreline investigations in the municipality can be found on the beach construction page of the township website.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.

By Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Sep 07, 2023 at 12:08

This item reprinted with permission from   Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
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