Provincial funding aids Manitoulin Streams Smith Bay Creek rehabilitation

Manitoulin Streams clears phragmites from the waters of Smith Bay Creek thanks to provincial funding.

WIIKWEMKOONG – Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association (MSIA), in partnership with Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, has received provincial funding to restore habitat, improve water quality and clean up the shoreline of Smith Bay Creek (in Wiikwemkoong), which runs into Lake Huron.

“We received funding of $50,000 through the Great Lakes Local Action Fund, which is going towards stream restoration in Smith Bay Creek,” stated Seija Deschenes, coordinator of MSIA. She explained that this creek, “is in the heart of the community (of Wiikwemkooong) and flows along the powwow grounds area. We have been gathering information the past couple of years and did stream assessments as to what is in the stream. Over 400 rainbow trout were caught in there along with 11 other species were found.”

“And along with Wiikwemkoong an enhancement strategy was put together by engineers to look at sites that need to be restored,” said Ms. Deschenes. “Two years ago a microburst went through the powwow grounds area, with a lot of trees ending up in the streams. A site design plan was created and six sites were identified at the upper reach of the stream system that need to be enhanced. We are looking to restore these sites and shorelines that are eroding on both sides, removing trees, improving stream monitoring, and looking at ways to sustain and repair habitat for the fishery, and ways this work can be done so adaptations can be made in the future for climate change. As part of the work, additional trees and shrubs will be planted in the area to provide shade over the stream and fish spawning areas.” 

“We’ve been out working there this week and removing phragmites along the shoreline and the entrance of the creek,” said Ms. Deschenes. 

“We’ve sent out tenders, and we’re hoping that the work on (Smith Bay Creek) will be able to be done in August and in the fall we will be able to do more tree planting,” continued Ms. Deschenes. “And we are hoping that maybe school groups in Wiikwemkoong along with the phragmites working group and maybe volunteers will help with the planting of trees as well, and with another garbage clean-up along that stretch, so the water will be nice and clear.” 

“Currently we are in the middle of sending out tenders and hoping work can start by August 3 and riparian restoration work can be done in September,” continued Ms. Deschenes. “We are looking forward to working with Wiikwemkoong on this project, and are grateful to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks for their funding support of the project,” said Ms. Deschenes. She added, “we will be starting with the upper six sites of the creek and in the future, over time, more work will continue over that stretch to help repair and restore the creek and improve the fishery and food security.” 

Last week, the Ontario government announced that funding for this project is among 44 community-based projects to receive $1.9 million in funding through the Great Lakes Local Action Fund, which supports local projects that support and restore the Great Lakes.

“The health of the Great Lakes is closely connected to our province’s health and prosperity, supplying water to our communities, sustaining traditional activities of Indigenous peoples and providing healthy ecosystems for recreation and tourism,” said David Piccini, minister of the environment, conservation and parks said in a release. “This funding allows local organizations and groups to take environmental actions in their own communities, building a better future with clean, green growth.” 

The 44 projects are led by community-based organizations, municipalities, conservation authorities and Indigenous communities and organizations across Ontario, from Ottawa to Thunder Bay. Projects were selected following a competitive review process.