The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is back visiting the dam at Esox Lake and their approach to it is the same as in 2003.
They waited until all the property owners were gone off the lakes before having the public meetings. They never contacted the property owners that were involved in the meetings in 2003 and 2005, nor contacted the commercial property owner-operators.
Back in 2003, they started the process with an idea of removing the dam and restoring the water to the original levels. After two years of meetings, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of money spent on consulting and reports, spokesperson Rachel Hill made a public statement on behalf of the MNR that the option chosen would be the replacement of the dam at Esox Lake, as it only had five years of life left according to the engineering reports.
Well, it is 12 years later and the same MNR has started the whole process over as they said there is new information. Well, I was at every meeting they have had about the dam—from 2003 to the meeting just held—and there is no new information and no money in the budget except for the money they are going to waste on the consultants.
And here again it looks to me like all they want to do is take out the dam.
This dam was built in 1898 to raise the water level for mining activity, then rebuilt in 1952 for the forestry industry, In removing the dam, they would destroy the ecosystem for 20-50 years, according to some biologists, along with not giving the public the access that the have enjoyed off the Cedar Narrows road (also not allowing travel through most of the narrows).
Furthermore, it would go against the “Lands For Life” process, where the dam was to stay to allow access through the whole watershed.
Now this dam is a control dam and the Manitou watershed makes up six percent of the Rainy Lake watershed. Could Fort Frances use that extra six percent in a flood year? There would be no way to hold that water back to allow Rainy Lake to drain, that is why the MNR had Rachel Hill put out the press release in 2005 that the option chosen was to build a new dam.
Nothing has change in the watershed; the dam is still holding water. The only thing this time that has changed is the name of the consulting company.
Let's not deal this environment anymore problems. It was probably wrong to build the dam in the first place, but the watershed has had 120 years to adjust and heal—let's not destroy that.
The public view in 2005 was to replace the dam, so let's replace it.