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TLCA has ‘concerns’ over City’s Trout Lake study

The Trout Lake Conservation Association (TLCA) is concerned about development on the lake, and how this development could affect our drinking water. “We feel our concerns have not been addressed or largely ignored,” explained Anthony Falconi, the President of the Association.

In August of 2022, the City of North Bay received a draft of a new watershed study. The study was intended to help guide the city’s development plans and the information within would be incorporated into the official plan.

See: Conservation Association wants more for Trout Lake

“There were a lot of concerns that were raised during the public consultation,” the city held before the draft study was complete, noted Liza Vandermeer, of the TLCA. Of primary concern was the amount of lakeshore lots available for development, and how this would affect the phosphorus levels and overall water quality.

After the consultations and the study arrived, the issue fell silent for about a year. The city has the study and other documents relating to the watershed posted on its website, but the TLCA would like to have this watershed study looked over some more. Ideally, the group wants a third party to have a look to question some of the findings.

“They’re recommending that Trout Lake could accommodate an additional 100 lots,” Vandermeer noted, “and we’re really concerned about that. Some of the science is questionable,” that led to that conclusion, she added.

She noted that the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources “would have been involved in reviewing” these watershed studies, but neither has looked over this one, the TLCA noted. “There’s nobody who’s taken a look at this to see whether they agree that those are valid assumptions,” Vandermeer said.

For instance, the TLCA mentioned that the study’s findings regarding the amount of phosphorus entering the lake were based on “measurements from properties on Northshore Road,” where there are “tertiary septic systems with advanced technologies.”

The association suspects these advanced septic systems “do not represent typical retention rates” of the septic systems “that the majority of homes and cottages have on the lake.”

Also troubling for TLCA members is the watershed study neglects to account for any “effects on Trout Lake from climate change.” Forest fires, rising temperatures, and other environmental factors “impact” the lake, Vandermeer said, and “the effects of climate change are outside the scope of this study,” she added.

Hence, the association is calling on the city to review the document to double check the findings.

“We’re asking the city to seek input from the ministry or some other peer review to check how the model was run to ensure the conclusions are valid because it is going to be so significant to the future of Trout Lake.”

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.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca