The public dock beside the Lake Talon boat launch needs repair, and has for years, but getting it fixed is proving to be a task. Three years ago, BayToday writer Dave Dale wrote about the dock needing some care, and as the years passed, the dock has fallen further into disrepair.
“This floating dock doesn’t float anymore,” clarified Brian Baker, the president of the Lake Talon Conservation Association. “It’s dangerous when people are walking out there, they don’t realize there’s no flotation, and you can almost be thrown into the water.”
It’s a shifty situation on that dock, and besides the possibility of sudden movements, the dock is tilted. It’s difficult to walk on, and for those with mobility or balance issues, a walk on the dock to the boat is far from comfortable.
The launch is a popular spot. Blanchard’s Landing is near the end of Talon Lake Road, off Highway 17 in Rutherglen. It’s just before you come to Talon Lake Campground and Marina, on the right. The boat launch provides the only public access to the 14 km wide lake, and trucks with boat trailers line the road.
The Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks is responsible for the launch and the dock, as the Blanchard’s Landing dock is within the Mattawa River Provincial Park. However, the park is a non-operating park.
So explained Diane Deagle in a letter to Baker on behalf of Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, who reached out to the Ministry of Environment on the issue. The ministry informed Fedeli that the dock was inspected on May 19, 2023 “and was not seen as unsafe.”
“If the dock becomes deteriorated to the point of becoming hazardous or a safety risk, Ontario Parks may remove the dock,” Deagle’s letter noted.
That point has already arrived, Baker emphasized. The sentiment is shared by Don Paquette and John Kelsall, both of whom have spent much of their lives at the lake and are fighting to solve the dock issue. Kelsall noted that the letter also stated, “The dock is primarily used by cottagers and full-time residents in the area,” which he said was untrue, as most cottagers park their boats at the marina next door.
“This is used by people from Calvin and Bonfield Townships, and North Bay, and general tourists who come to the lake,” Kelsall said. “They use this launch, we don’t. It’s used by the general public.”
Which is one of the main issues – public access to the lake. “This is the only public access,” Kelsall emphasized.
“That’s why you see so many vehicles here on the weekend,” Paquette added.
Attempts to get the Ministry to pay for repairs – or better yet, a replacement – have failed. The park has been deemed non-operating, which means the funds for the park have been drastically reduced. Fedeli suggested concerned residents apply for funding through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).
Fedeli mentioned he’s been offering this advice for years, and “We have made room within the NOHFC to allow for docks for these types of purposes.”
“We’ve made an opening for them,” he added, referring to docks, “so I would encourage them to get an application.”
That’s what Paquette and Kelsall plan to do – form a not-for-profit organization that would allow them to apply for project funding. It’s not an easy or quick task to form such an organization, but the wheels are turning.
Ideally, they want to replace the entire dock and dredge the site as well. The silt levels at this part of the lake have grown considerably over the past years, Paquette and Kelsall explained, which is becoming an issue for boaters.
Once the organization is formed, and if the funding application is approved, the group will enter into an agreement with Ontario Parks to identify ownership and responsibilities related to the dock.
Time will tell. In the meantime, watch your step.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
By David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Aug 21, 2023 at 16:27