Thunder Bay

Shebandowan campers take boaters 'business' into their own hands

A group of camp owners on Lake Shebandowan, have taken the 'business' of boat launch users into their own hands.

Porta potties installed, paid for by volunteer group

A new sign, asking launch users not to litter, and two porta potties are now at the Lower Shebandowan boat launch, after a group of nearby campers fundraised for public access washrooms at the site. (Submitted by Melissa McClement)

A group of camp owners on Lake Shebandowan, have taken the 'business' of boat launch users into their own hands.

The Lower Shebandowan Lake Access group rented porta potties for the summer, after a cleanup at the public access launch earlier this summer showed launch users were having to go to the washroom, with no facilities available.

The popular lake is about 80 km west of Thunder Bay, Ont.

"So this is just a tester this summer just to see [how it works]," said Melissa McClement, a volunteer with the group.

"We don't really have a long term plan for this. We're hoping that once an organization sees that we are able to do [what we have accomplished], that they can come on board and help us for future summers." 

McClement said she spearheaded the fundraising needed to have the two porta potties cleaned and serviced each week. A-1 Sewage donated the cost of bringing the actual units to the area, as well as renting them for the summer.

The total cost is about $2,400, McClement said, with about $2,100 raised so far. McClement said a few members of the group would cover any shortages, with any overage used to pay for the toilets next year.

"I've never looked at portable toilets so much in my life," she said, noting the facilities have been seeing lots of use since the Victoria Day weekend. The goal is to keep them in place until just past the Labour Day weekend.

"People are appreciative of us. This is a pilot project. We needed to figure out if we could do people who really care about our lake."

Formerly, there were outhouses located at the boat launch, but they were in a dilapidated condition, and were torn down by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) a few years ago.

The MNRF said it doesn't build outhouses on Crown land at boat launches or public access points, but has allowed concerned citizens and groups to do so, such as at Arrow Lake and Northern Lights Lake.

There is no formal ministry program for building or maintaining public outhouses either, the MNRF said in a statement.

McClement said the group at Shebandowan levelled a small area for the facilities, and also put up a sign to remind people to not litter in the area.

"I hope this shows that it can be done, it was done, and that it's really servicing a need in our area."


Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.