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Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority > Pefferlaw Dam

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​Pefferlaw Dam

​Update - May 5

​All Stop Logs and Flashboards Now Installed 

The last of the stop logs and flashboards were fully installed last week and the Pefferlaw Dam reservoir will now fill up. Town of Georgina staff participated as part of the operations training and we will continue to monitor and manage the dam in coordination with them throughout the spring and summer months. 

Next Steps 

As per typical operating procedures, removal of the logs and flashboards will start in early October to begin the process of drawing down the reservoir to prevent flooding from winter ice jams. Authority staff will continue to work with the Town of Georgina staff, as required, throughout the remainder of 2021.

February 26

​Dam Operation for 2021

We are pleased to report that since early January we have been working with the Town of Georgina to implement the course of action that was approved by our Board of Directors on December 18, 2020. This includes providing the necessary equipment and training to allow the Town of Georgina to take over dam operations in 2021.

It is anticipated that the stop logs and flashboards will be installed this coming Spring. It is important to note that the installation of the stop logs is highly dependent on weather conditions and related water flows and levels. Typically stop log and flashboard installation happens in May, however, due to fluctuating water flow, the dates may change from year to year.

Next Steps

We continue according to plan and are ​implementing all five resolutions passed at the December 18 Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Board of Directors meeting.

Dec​ember 21

At the LSRCA Board of Directors' meeting held on Friday, December 18, the Board voted in favour of the 5 following recommendations put forward as amendments to the original recommendations in Staff Report No. 49-20-BOD.

  1. That the Authority discontinue operation of the dam effective December 1, 2021;
  2. That the Authority begin discussions with the Town of Georgina to transfer the two parcels of land collectively known as the Pefferlaw Dam Conservation Area (Attachment 1) and to finalize this land transfer by December 31, 2021. The legal descriptions of these parcels are as follows: PIN 03539-0059 (LT): PT LOT 23 CONCESSION 5 GEORGINA PT 1 65R4695 PIN 03539-0060 (LT): PT LOT 23 CONCESSION 5 GEORGINA PT 2 65R3240.
  3. That Authority staff work with the Town of Georgina in 2021 as a transition period for the operation of the dam, including developing funding opportunities with the Town of Georgina for LSRCA staff and Town staff to install the stop logs together in the spring of 2021, providing the Town of Georgina with all equipment required for the operation of the dam and provide training as required, and discussions on funding opportunities for other co​sts including any insurance and legal costs related to the dam;
  4. That Authority staff assist the Town of Georgina to move forward with preparing documents for submission to the Province affirming the Town of Georgina as having ownership and/or jurisdiction over the river and mill pond (subject to any possible crown interest in “navigable waters” and under original crown patent); and
  5. That the Authority work directly with the Town of Georgina to support any future community engagement/consultation they may wish to pursue and assist with potential funding opportunities with other levels of government.

These recommendations mean that Town of Georgina staff will begin the process to gain Council approval to support taking on ownership, management and operations of the Pefferlaw Dam before the end of 2021.

LSRCA staff will continue to collaborate with the Town of Georgina in 2021 to transfer our knowledge and equipment for dam operation purposes. The decision to operate the Dam in 2021 will ultimately be determined by the Town’s agreement to fund the operational costs and accept the associated liability for operations.

LSRCA will also support the Town’s pursuit of funding opportunities and future community engagement/consultation they may wish to undertake.

View the full list of meetings, agendas and audio recordings or listen to the December 18 recording(Pefferlaw Dam segment starts at minute 33 and runs for 25 minutes).

September 22

Dam Operation​

The stop logs and flashboards were fully installed by mid-August and the reservoir is currently at normal operating levels. As per typical operating procedures, removal of the logs and flashboards will start in early October to begin the process of drawing down the reservoir to prevent flooding from winter ice jams. This process is expected to take several weeks and, depending on weather, will conclude by the end of October.  

Please note that no decisions have been made at this time about the operation of the dam in 2021.   

Ownership

In late August, we received a reply from the province about our ownership inquiry. Unfortunately, the letter did not clearly confirm who legally owns the dam. To that end, we have asked that the Town of Georgina also do a detailed search and review of their property records to confirm when they originally took ownership of the dam and if ownership was transferred to LSRCA. 

Community Engagement  

There is currently no concrete timeframe for community engagement. Once legal ownership can be confirmed, LSRCA and the Town of Georgina will consider the most effective way to engage the public as the future of the dam is considered. Unfortunately, this process will be complicated because of the changing provincial and regional restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic.  

We are aware of the dam’s importance to the local Pefferlaw community and we know there is a strong interest in discussing its future. We would like to affirm our commitment to pursuing the necessary information required to carry out community engagement in a meaningful way. As soon as we have more information, we will share it with our Pefferlaw Dam mailing list and post it on this page.​

August 6

Truss now repaired, stoplogs being installed ​

We were able to quickly secure welding services and the truss has now been repaired. LSRCA staff have also installed the flashboards and the first of the stoplogs.

Staff will continue the usual process of installing the stoplogs. This happens in stages to ensure that the water level in the reservoir is slowly raised and adequate flow is maintained downstream of the dam.

Next steps

​Please stay tuned for information on how and when community engagement will take place.

July 27​

Truss to be repaired, stop logs installed for 2020

At the Board of Directors' meeting held on Friday, July 24, our directors voted in favour of 6 of the 7 recommendations put forth in the Staff Report No. 36-20-BOD:

  1. We will undertake welding work to fix the truss supports as soon as possible.
  2. We will share the cost of the welding repairs with the Town of Georgina.
  3. Once the welding work is complete, we will install the stop logs and flashboards for the remainder of the season. The stop logs will be removed in the fall as per approved operating protocol.
  4. We will maintain closure of pedestrian access via the bridge on the dam structure for safety reasons.
  5. We will continue to seek confirmation of ownership of the dam structure from the Province.
  6. Together with the Town of Georgina, we will undertake community consultation regarding the current and future status of the Pefferlaw Dam. This includes operations for 2021 and beyond.

Recommendation #7 (that the Authority permanently discontinue operation and stoplog management of the Pefferlaw Dam after the fall 2020 removal of the stop logs) has been deferred until public consultation can take place.

Meeting recording available online

An audio of the Board of Directors' meeting is public and can be listened to here. The recording begins with a deputation by Karen Wolfe and is followed by a discussion of the recommendations outlined in the Staff Report. The Pefferlaw Dam segment runs to around 45 minutes.

Next Steps

We're making arrangements for the welding work to occur as soon as possible. Once this is done, our staff will install the stop logs and flashboards. Preparations for community consultation will also begin shortly.

July 17

We Have the Report!

​The report from the engineering firm D.M. Wills Associates Limited is now available and will be discussed at next Friday's Board of Directors meeting (July 24). A corresponding staff report is also available (Please note: The staff report was amended on July 23 to correct an error. Tracked changes are visible on page 6).

Our Board meetings are open to the public, however due ​to the pandemic, our meetings are now held virtually, via Zoom.​

To access the meeting on July 24, please click on the link below. The meeting begins promptly at 9 am. When you click on the link, you will be admitted to the waiting room and our host will add you so that you may view the meeting live.

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83847907568 

Your camera and microphone must remain turned off for the duration of the meeting. The Zoom meeting is limited to a maximum of 100 people, so if the meeting spots fill, it's possible that you will not be granted access to the meeting. If this is the case, all of our Board meetings are recorded and posted to our website for public access.

June 24

​On-site Inspection Completed, Report Pending

A detailed inspection of the truss bridge and the dam occurred on May 22. The engineering firm's final report will be provided the first week of July. Once our Board of Directors has reviewed it, the report will be shared on this page. ​

Consultation is Part​ of the Process

Once we receive the engineering report, we will need time to review, analyze options and prepare our recommendations. A fulsome evaluation of associated costs, risks and benefits will be required to move forward. Consultation with other agencies such as the Town of the Georgina and the broader community is part of this process. Residents will get a chance to provide their feedback.  ​

Ownership Issue Requires Resolution

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have acknowledged receipt of our May 5th letter and are working on this file currently. We also followed up with them on June 18th. We have yet to receive more news on this matter. Please note, in the lead up to any decisions, the ownership issue will need resolution.

May 20, 2020

We have now retained an engineering consultant to undertake a detailed inspection of the truss bridge and the dam. This work will include a structural assessment and a concrete assessment, and will happen over the next week​. We expect to obtain the final report by the end of June 2020.

We have also received acknowledgement from the Province of Ontario that they have received our correspondence seeking clarification on the Dam ownership issue.

May 5, 2020

We wish to remind residents that no long-term decisions around the future operation of the Pefferlaw Dam have been made. There have been structural issues identified with both the bridge that is used to install the stop-logs, and the dam structure itself.  

We have committed to undertaking a detailed inspection to assess the structural issues in question. We are in the pr​ocess of obtaining an estimate and proceeding with this work as soon as possible. We are hopeful that this will happen within the next few weeks.  

In order to proceed with any discussions about the future operation, we also need to get confirmation regarding the ownership of the Pefferlaw dam. We are reaching out to the Province of Ontario to help us make this determination.

​For those concerned about the ecosystem and the welfare of the local animals, rest assured they are not being harmed by this year’s changes. Animals are adapted to survive and have many natural areas to use as the area around Pefferlaw is very healthy and full of habitat. The exposed banks will green up very soon. You may see less ducks and turtles this year, but more deer and fox. 

Read the Pefferlaw Dam Briefing Note provided to the Town of Georgina Council for the May 6, 2020 Council meeting.

​What’s Happening in 2020?

​As a result of concerns raised through our regular dam maintenance and inspection process, our staff hired an engineering consultant to undertake a thorough visual inspection of the Pefferlaw Dam. The consultant identified structural and safety concerns, which has led to closure of the bridge. 

For the safety of visitors and staff, the bridge will be off-limits for the foreseeable future. The inspection also indicated that there are structural concerns with the dam that need to be further investigated and addressed to ensure dam safety.

​ You might not be aware that in past years stop-logs have been added to the dam in the spring and removed in the fall to restrict the flow of water. Due to the structural concerns and the fact that the use of the bridge is necessary to install the stop-logs, for the safety of our staff, they will not be installed this year.

Our staff are discussing the current concerns and future operation of the Pefferlaw Dam with our partners at the Town of Georgina and the Province of Ontario. 

No decisions beyond 2020 operations have been made at this time.

​Anticipated Changes to the Area

Without the stop-logs to hold back the water, the reservoir behind the dam will not be as high as usual, changing visitor and resident experiences this year. 

As a favourite​ spot for its picturesque views, nostalgic memories and recreation opportunities, we recognize these changes may be difficult, so we’d like to let you know what changes you might expect to see this year:

  • A shallower, meandering river will likely replace the reservoir making it likely unnavigable by kayak or canoe. 
  • The banks of the former reservoir may be bare for a short time, but likely within weeks, will fill in with natural streambank plants.

Especially during a year of unexpected changes, following are some potential benefits these changes may create:

  • If you’re a nature lover, you’ll begin to see different plants and animals; ones that are better adapted to live in t​he area. Perhaps fewer nuisance Canada Geese and instead, more Swallows and Dragonflies. Healthy rive​r systems teem with life.
  • Faster flowing water is also healthier, more oxygen-rich and will benefit fish species downstream of the dam.  
  • And healthier river systems are more resilient – meaning they are better able to handle the challenges of climate change that is already upon us.
  • As water will flow through the dam unrestricted by stop-logs, this area will be able to handle larger volumes of water from flashier storms. Climate change projections tell us to expect more of this. This additional capacity may actually protect your property from the risk of flooding.
  • We do not anticipate private well levels to be affected by the changes at the Dam. 

​Stay Informed

If you’d like to stay informed on this issue - sign up for our Pefferlaw Dam Mailing List​. We’ll provide updates and articles of interest, as well as share answers to your questions.

​And if you have questions specific to this issue, please reach out to us:

Kristen Yemm, Director, Corporate Communications and Engagement
k.yemm@LSRCA.on.ca​  905-895-1281 ext. 315​