A public consultation process conducted by the City of Greater Sudbury is slated to help determine the future of Skead-area access to Lake Wanapitei.
The city came under fire last month when staff installed boulders at the end of Poupore Road West, which blocked lake access around a cul-de-sac at the edge of the lake.
Although never an official lake access, this area has been used as such for decades, both during the summer and the winter, when it serves as an access for ice-fishing huts.
This is the only Skead-area location winter anglers can currently access the lake.
The closure came in response to a petition 27 Poupore Road West area residents submitted to the city earlier this year, at which time they expressed concerns about traffic and parking.
Sudbury.com visited a handful of these residents last month at one of their homes, where they noted that illegal parking can prevent buses and snow plows from being able to turn around. Further, vehicles with boats in tow lined up down Poupore Road West have been known to block their driveways.
Shortly after the boulders were installed, Mayor Brian Bigger ordered a few of them to be removed to make way for winter access, which city staff have since done.
It’s not just residents of Poupore Road West to consider, he said, but also the lake users whose access was cut off.
During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Bigger presented a petition with more than 900 names on it which requests the immediate reinstatement of full lake access at Poupore Road West.
However, this wasn’t the action that Bigger expressed support for.
“I believe it’s very important for this process to follow a democratic process, a public consultation, and also a referral back to city council with staff recommendations based on listening to the residents that have concerns, quite frankly, on both slides,” he said.
The initial step to install the boulders was city staff’s response to the initial 27-name petition, Bigger said, noting that it was not a council decision and wasn’t announced to the community.
Tuesday’s motion was introduced by Ward 6 Coun. Mike Jakubo, who represents the area. It directs staff to present a COVID-safe public consultation process for the people of Skead and the users of Lake Wanapitei “to assist staff in developing recommendations for seasonal access to Lake Wanapitei.”
Further, it requests that staff present a report to city council by the end of the first quarter of the year describing how they came to the conclusion to close lake access at Poupore Road West.
The motion “doesn’t pre-suppose any outcome,” Jakubo explained, noting that a solution will come from both the staff report and outcome of the public consultation process.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Bigger indicated that he would have preferred to have seen this public consultation process take place before the boulders were placed in the first place.
With 330 lakes in Greater Sudbury, many of which accessed by unofficial boat launches such as the one up for debate, Bigger said this process could easily be repeated for other locations.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.