Campbell Bay boat launch closed due to severe disrepair

As is evident by the photo, the Campbell Bay boat launch in Burpee and Mills is in unsafe condition and has been closed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

EVANSVILLE—Local boaters are upset, as is Burpee and Mills council, that the Campbell Bay boat launch is in such bad condition it had to be closed.

“The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is shutting it down, because the boat launch is not safe,” said Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee and Mills. “We’ve been working for probably five years, at least, on this issue. They (DFO) had approached us asking if we wanted to take over ownership of the boat launch. But originally it had no access (the launch is surrounded by a Ministry of Transportation picnic park) and is land locked so you couldn’t get from Highway 540 to the boat launch. But it is a mess—it’s in poor condition; they wanted to give us a boat launch with potential liability. So, then DFO said they would consider giving us a grant to fix the structure, so we said okay, we will discuss this ownership transfer.”

“But seeing that it is a federal structure, the province has to sign off on it, and it can take up to two years for the province to give up rights on it (the access to the boat launch),” said Reeve Noland.

Dave Johnson, a local boater who uses the Campbell Bay boat launch told The Expositor, “this is probably one of the most used boat launches in this area, at least on Western Manitoulin. I spent half the summer contacting (Algoma-Manitoulin) MPP (Michael) Mantha about the condition of the boat launch. The boat launch is owned by DFO, and now we got a newsletter from the township saying it is going to be closed.”

During the week of October 17, DFO announced it would be closing the Campbell Bay boat launch due to its unsafe condition, the township October newsletter reads.

“It’s not safe, it is in brutal condition,” said Mr. Johnson. “Everyone around here uses the launch ramp. Fisheries and Oceans are not going to do anything with it. Hopefully, at some point after the ramp is repaired, the township can take it over.”

Mr. Johnson noted the boat launch had been under water three years ago, due to the high-water levels and work was carried out to improve it.

However, “it is 100 percent unsafe,” stated Mr. Johnson. “DFO should fix it and let Burpee and Mills take it over.”

Reeve Noland pointed out the township has been in contact with Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha on the issue. “We were told they need to have an engineer to do a survey on it to see what kind of condition it is in. Now we are waiting for the province to sign off on any claims to the boat launch, and then we can talk again about getting it fixed and the township can consider taking it over. This is not a dead issue, but I don’t see the boat launch being in place next year. I know they will be closing it this weekend.”

MPP Mantha told The Expositor, “There is supposed to be an engineer from DFO at the boat launch within the next couple of weeks to do an assessment of what is there and its condition. And they are going to block off the boat launch ramp because of the safety concerns.”

“The township also intends on possibly taking over the launch ramp if it is brought up to standards,” said MPP Mantha. “But before any divestiture takes place, they have to go through the process of investigating if there is interest in the property by the province. The province would need to remove their interest in it by an order in council. Right now, discussions are ongoing with the province and I will be following up with them.”