Parks Canada offers to meet with Kawartha Nishnawbe over Burleigh Falls blockade

·3 min read

Parks Canada issued a statement Wednesday that it is willing to meet with members of the Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation community who have put up a blockade to stop construction to replace the Burleigh Falls Dam.

On Jan. 13, members of the first nation community established a blockade, putting a halt to the repair work being done to the dam — which is owned by Parks Canada — because no consultation was made with the nearby community prior to the start of construction.

According to Parks Canada’s statement written by David Britton, director of Ontario Waterways, the dam at Lock 28 of the Trent-Severn Waterway is one dam in a chain of dams and an integral part of the water management structure of central Ontario.

“Engineering inspections in recent years have identified the declining condition of the Burleigh Falls Dam. A significant void at the base of the dam undermines the dam’s structural integrity, and is cause for concern regarding both public safety, and the protection of properties and species, including an important Walleye fishery,” Britton wrote.

“Concrete strength inspections have showed deterioration beyond what is deemed acceptable. These factors indicate that the dam is at or nearing the end of its useful life, and requires a major intervention. Parks Canada is proceeding with a full replacement of the dam, following the current phase of construction that will first stabilize the existing dam.”

The protesters have said they do not dispute that the dam needs to be replaced but they wanted to be consulted before the construction began.

Britton said the federal government is committed to working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationships with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, collaboration and partnership.

“Parks Canada has offered to meet with the Kawartha Nishnawbe on the Burleigh Falls Dam replacement project both in 2016 and more recently to understand their concerns regarding the potential impacts of the project. Parks Canada remains available to do so and hopes to connect in a meaningful way through this process,” Britton wrote.

Parks Canada has met with Curve Lake First Nation and the other Williams Treaties First Nations on the first phase of the project and has arranged mitigation measures, including on-site monitors, to address their concerns, Britton added.

“Parks Canada continues to meet with Curve Lake First Nation and the other Williams Treaties First Nations on the upcoming phases of work for the Burleigh Falls dam replacement project and are working together to develop fisheries monitoring and mitigation plans,” he wrote.

Originally the Trent-Severn Waterway had planned to rehabilitate the dam, but could not find a contractor that could do the work, so a decision was made to replace the dam. Parks Canada plans to complete the work by 2024.

Kawartha Nishnawbe members could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email:

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner