Misner Dam Challenges

Earthweek Cleanup Crew at Silver Lake

Earth Week Cleanup Crew at Silver Lake

Sunday, April 21, an enthusiastic group of residents whose heart and commitment to our waterfront areas is unsurpassed, turned up to do a spring cleaning – this group is posing in Silver Lake Park. Another group went down to Black Creek where to their dismay, people have been doing their spring cleaning by dumping their renovation materials and other unwanted stuff along the Black Creek waterfront. Pictures of that atrocity can be viewed on Face Book – perhaps you may recognize items that could lead to identifying the perpetrators! Thank you to everyone who gave up time on the weekend to spruce up our community areas – this is the spirit that makes us proud to live here.


As we prepare to attend the Town Hall Meeting May 9, there are a number of issues we need to be ready to consider and to problem solve alternatives  no matter what is decided on a go forward basis. The following are some notes sent out to Councillors by Ron Keating.

The challenge before us with Misner Dam must accommodate certain facts.

  1. Flood Management. The terrain drops some fourteen feet in the half mile from Ivey Dam to Black Creek. In the absence of a dam any flood torrent rushing down the Lynn River would pick up major impetus from such a drop, before it crashes into its right angle turn  with Black Creek. And while any reasonable person would raise an eyebrow at the flood projected by the IDF study, we know that extreme weather events are occurring with increasing frequency: witness Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy; the 2011 Red River floods (locally the worst ever); and at this very moment the floods rushing through our northern cottage country. Closer to home consider the 1989 Harrow storm, Essex County (“the greatest  rainstorm on record east of the Pacific coastal Mountains in Canada”). In 27 hours 450 mm of rain fell. (I have attached the “MNR Harrow Storm Internal Study”.)  Are dams a suitable response to floods? The judgement is, yes. Think about all the dams built in Ontario following the 1954 Hurricane Hazel; the numerous dams on the Thames and Grand rivers and their tributaries – precisely for flood management. Manitoba is strengthening its Red River defenses, not abandoning them.
  2. Siltation. We know that Misner Dam has trapped behind it silt flowing down the river these past 157 years. Any proposal to remove the dam must a) deal with removing the immediate movement of that silt into the downstream waters and harbour; and b) address the long-term challenge of dealing with the silt coming down the river year after year, to maintain the viability of the waterway, harbour and local economy. Port Burwell, just down the lake, with its magnificent beaches and dockage, and total lack of any meaningful commercial activity is an object lesson for us all. Its harbour has been overwhelmed by silt.
  3. Water quality. Each year sees more storm sewers built to empty into the Lynn River. Each decade sees more treated sewage effluent flowing into the waterway. The Silver Lake upper marshes and the entrapment of silt contributes greatly to containing upstream pollution from  the beaches central to our flourishing tourism. What are alternatives without the lake and the dam?


Please plan to attend this important meeting. There will be opportunity to ask questions.



Storm Sewer Running Into Silver Lake

Storm Sewer Running Into Silver Lake

This was installed when St. Andrew Street was redone. This along with about a dozen other drains coming in from Main, St. Andrew and St. Patrick have helped fill the lake a bit. Picture compliments of Helen Bingleman.

To our Community:

 A Town Hall meeting is called for Thursday, May 9, 7 pm, Port Dover Lions Community Centre, to allow our citizens to hear and discuss with our elected representatives

 a) just where we are with repair of Misner Dam and
b) what next steps may be.

 The recent findings that the Dam needs to withstand a flood of major proportions, with cost implications in the ten or twenty million dollars range has caused Council to adopt a resolution as per

 March 26, 2013, Resolution Number 8: Moved by Councillor Wells, Seconded by Councillor Oliver

That Staff Report P.W. 13-24 Misner’s Dam, MNR Response, be received as information;

AND THAT fully recognizing that Norfolk County is not the “owner” as defined in the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act and this fact has been communicated to the officials of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) from the outset of this matter;

AND FURTHER THAT Norfolk County Council direct staff to cease all work on the application to repair the Misner’s Dam;

AND FURTHER THAT the existing Misner Dam Council Committee (Councillors Wells, Oliver, Geysens, Mayor Travale and staff) continue discussion with Federal and Provincial Government Authorities and the community with the interest to resolve the Misner’s Dam issue and ensure that the life and property of those below the dam be protected from any catastrophic event as documented in the IDF study.

The Mayor and Councillors are looking forward to an opportunity to discuss all this with the Community. Hopefully MNR, our MP, and our MPP will also be in attendance to participate in and add to the discussion.

All of us concerned with repair of Misner Dam and restoration of Silver Lake are urged to turn out and participate.

 Share this message with your friends and neighbours who may not receive email communications, and  persuade them to come out with you.

 May 9, 7 pm Community Centre!



Silver Lake is back – YouTube

Silver Lake is back – YouTube.


Spring 2013 Sunset

Spring 2013 Sunrise

2013 has been a year of unusual weather all over the world. The heavy rains of April have resulted in the restoration of Silver Lake for a few days.  Our many and talented photographers have taken advantage of the increased water in the lake and harbour areas to take pictures which can only be described as bitter sweet as they include both the good, the bad and the ugly. We have included a few examples on our website to provide some highlights of spring. 

Be sure to check out the amazing video of Silver Lake during the April rain storms this spring.  Click on the YouTube link at the top of the page. It was published on Apr 12, 2013 and shows Silver Lake in Port Dover as seen on the fourth day of rain on April 12, 2013. Water pours over Misner Dam.

While the future of the lake and dam is now in the hands of the Ministry of Natural Resources, whatever is decided, there will have to be actions taken to preserve the health and safety of our community. The issues include:

1. an open sand plain sink hole hazard for unwary animals and children and yes, also for the curious and intrepid walker like this writer whom I confess decided to get a closer view of a bag of trash that had been dumped in the swamp in order to search for anything that might identify the evil doer!   Luckily I emerged with  life intact sans one boot – one more step forward and I would have been a goner! The trash turned out to be “end of year” notes for a high school student who had evidently done reasonably well in their academic grades but had not seemed to have learned anything about community pride and responsibility.

2. a fertile breeding ground for mosquito larvae and attendant West Nile Virus.

3. a new habitat for the beautiful invasive purple loose strife that is endangering our market garden industries

4. an emerging issue reflecting a the loss of pride in our environment as shown in our lake and harbour front areas now being re-purposed as a dumping ground for trash and graffiti. Can it be that when we see deterioration around us. we lose heart and devolve to the lowest common denominator. It certainly happened in Detroit!

5. an influx of all terrain vehicles racing through the soggy park and ripping up the acres of grass lands, wrecking havoc on the Lynn Valley Trail, and destroying our lovely prairie grass gardens.

Tall Grass Prairie

Tall Grass Prairie A Unique Feature in Silver Lake Park

New Trash Dump along Black Creek, scenic route of the River Rider Tourist attraction

New Trash Dump along Black Creek, scenic route of the River Rider Tourist attraction

Neatly packaged in a bag!

Neatly packaged in a bag! Help yourself – I don’t need this anymore but it is still useful especially if you are doing some home canning!!

Swan on Silver Lake by Helen Bingman April 2013

Swan on Silver Lake by Helen Bingleman April 2013

Geese and Swans A-swimming on Silver Lake April 2013

Geese and Swans A-swimming on Silver Lake April 2013

Appreciation to Helen, Tracey and Tim for the amazing pictures of spring on Silver Lake and the Harbour Front areas.

Tim is our Seer into the future. If we build the dam that has been prescribed and which will cost millions of dollars, would it really add to the charm of our little fishing village? Would it really protect us from an epic storm and earthquake? Would it actually flood all the land behind it and keep the water from going into the harbour?  Using his multifaceted  talents and skills developed as an engineer and architect of model train parts, Tim has developed an architect’s model  of what we might actually be able to build “if we had a million plus dollars” or more! Let’s be careful what we wish for!



Maybe we would be better off to put our faith in nature with these little guys on the job!

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