City to look at dredging Boulevard Lake, cleaning up beaches
Transit, Eye on the Street reports also approved
A plan to leave organic material, like wood and vegetation at the bottom of Boulevard Lake could get overhauled, after a Monday night vote from Thunder Bay city council.
The dam which created Boulevard Lake has been undergoing work all summer, resulting in the lake, which is man-made on the Current River, being drained.
While the water is low, Coun. Andrew Foulds asked city administration to look at two items: dredging a channel to increase the water depth, and cleaning out swimming areas of debris.
"I get that there was the request to leave some of the driftwood. I get that it provides structure," said Foulds, referencing a report from city administration, recommending organic materials be left as they are in the lake.
He said his main concern is safety for swimmers, who frequent areas other than the main beach at Boulevard Lake.
"In particular with the driftwood, the request is to look at cleaning up the two north beaches."
"I actually think we do need to balance the interests of swimmers, and being able to walk out into the water."
Foulds said the city should also consider the clubs and businesses that use the lake for canoe and kayak rentals and trials.
"I can understand why we want to clean up some of the wood. I want to know why we can't have the community do it?" asked Coun. Rebecca Johnson.
Administration said there were not enough resources available to coordinate the cleanup — although members of the city's EarthCare committee were willing to partake in the cleanup.
Council voted to ask administration to look at the driftwood issue and also look at dredging a channel in the lake, potentially over the winter.
The channel could be used to help restart the dragon boat festival, which at one point, saw over 100 boats participate in the weekend event, Foulds said.
Council also approved a plan to allow transit to maintain its modified schedule, due to a decrease in ridership during the pandemic.
Transit is still operating at about 50 per cent of its pre-pandemic ridership levels, while its service offering is about 75 per cent of its full schedule. Any further reduction would have a major impact on the transit schedule, a report to council noted.
The plan though allows transit to convert its Neebing 4 run into an on-demand service, effective January 31, 2021. Transit would report back to council by March of that year, determining the success of the service, and if it could also be expanded to other routes. More details would be rolled out in November.
"I have residents who have been riding the bus for 5, 20 years out there, and it's a staple. It's there, I can jump on, I can jump off, I know when it's coming," said Coun. Cody Fraser, who represents the Neebing ward.
"I don't think this is appropriate at this stage at the same time being put through when we're looking at transit service levels for Covid."
The Neebing 4 route has already reverted to an on-demand service after 6 p.m. due to low ridership.
Other council matters
Council also approved an expansion of its Homemaking program, which prior to Monday night, had a cap of 34 participants.
The program, which is mainly funded by the province, provides support for people to continue living in their homes, who may otherwise need long term care, or other supports.
The program provides light housekeeping, laundry and meal preparation services for people on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program.
The removal of the cap would allow five to eight more participants take part in the program, while not changing the cost of the $125,000 program.
Council also approved the continuation of the Eye on the Street program, although many voiced their concerns about these cameras and an individual's privacy.
The 11 cameras, which are located in the two downtown cores, logged 93 incidents involving "suspicious activity" in 2019.
The program has operators who monitor the cameras on a routine basis. The cost is about $121,000 to operate the system, along with a nearly $60,000 capital upgrade required this year.