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City to consider dredging Boulevard Lake

Dredging dragon boat channel, removing driftwood from beaches will be considered over more limited administration recommendations

THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay will consider a more extensive cleanup of Boulevard Lake, including dredging and removal of driftwood from beaches, following a city council vote Monday night.

Current River Coun. Andrew Foulds pushed to examine the more ambitious strategies after city administration recommended sticking with a more limited litter cleanup of the lake bed.

Councillors were supportive of making the improvements before water levels are raised again next year as part of ongoing work on the Boulevard Lake dam.

Administration will now be tasked with reporting back by Dec. 21 on the feasibility of the two approaches.

A partial dredging of the lake along the dragon boat channel could improve water quality by increasing flow, as well as bringing the lake up to International Dragon Boat Federation standards.

Reduced water flow was one of three factors identified as contributing to occasionally high E. Coli bacteria levels, which have resulted in swimming advisories at the lake. Others are buildup of gull and goose feces and warmer summer temperatures.

Removing the buildup would be only a short-term solution that would need to be repeated every year or two, said director of engineering Kayla Dixon.

The dredging work could be complex, Dixon warned, requiring environmental approvals and the possible renewal of watermains in the area.

A city report on the options did not estimate a cost for the work. Estimates will come to council as part of the report back by Dec. 21.

Foulds also urged the city to clean up driftwood from the lake’s two north beach locations. He said the driftwood obstructed enjoyment for swimmers, kayakers, and canoeists.

The city will leave driftwood in place over the rest of the lake bed, saying advice indicated it served as valuable fish habitat.

Foulds’ two motions earned nearly unanimous support, with Coun. Mark Bentz casting a lone vote against examining the dredging option.