Ontario to decommission old MNRF fishery dock this year

The old fishery dock near South Baymouth has stood since the 1960s. Since the fisheries research station closed, the dock has deteriorated.

SOUTH BAYMOUTH – Infrastructure Ontario has notified the Township of Tehkummah that it plans to decommission the government dock in McKim Bay, within Lake Huron’s South Bay, located at 22 Lakeshore Road near South Baymouth.

DST Consulting Engineers informed the township in a January 8 letter that it was conducting an environmental assessment for the decommissioning process. It invited the municipality to share information on the project and consult with the province on the dock’s decommissioning.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) built the McKim Bay dock in the 1960s as part of a fisheries research station located at the Lakeshore Road property. 

This dock is a key part of the South Baymouth story. John Budd served as resident scientist in charge of the research station and was a world-renowned biologist. He started working in South Baymouth in 1954 until his sudden death in Yellowstone National Park in 1962.

John Budd Park in South Baymouth is named in memory of Mr. Budd, who had a key role in breeding the first lake trout-speckled trout hybrid, known as splake.

All of the buildings at 22 Lakeshore Road that were part of the research station have since been demolished. The property is now vacant but the public uses it as a boat launch. 

The dock in question is built using round timber with wood joists as bracing, as well as wood decking on top. It stretches 57 metres from shore and has two 18-metre fingers.

This structure has been falling further into disrepair in recent years. Many pieces of the decking have disappeared and parts of the structure are fully underwater due to Lake Huron’s extreme high levels in recent years.

Infrastructure Ontario has proposed a complete decommissioning of all portions of the dock, both above and below the water line. Work is scheduled to begin this year at the end of April and is expected to conclude before August 31, before the annual in-water construction period closes to protect fish and fish habitats.

The province asked Tehkummah to verify the information in its environmental assessment as well as offer feedback on what environmental impacts the removal may have, as well as ways to possibly reduce those impacts. Infrastructure Ontario will publish a public report about the consultation and relevant documentation for the project.

At a recent Tehkummah council meeting, Councillor Michael McKenzie expressed concerns about where the province would dispose of the materials, considering the available space and fill at the municipal landfill. The township said it would inquire as to the ministry’s plans for disposing the old timbers.

Councillor Rick Gordon asked if there would be any cost to the township to complete the work; deputy treasurer Barbara Grigg said there would not be, and Councillor McKenzie suggested that there could be potential income if the ministry insists on disposing of the materials in the Tehkummah landfill.