The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority is willing to turn over Highland Glen to Plympton-Wyoming.
The board of directors recently agreed to start talking with the municipality about the details of what the turnover of the Lake Huron park would look like.
In late November, Plympton-Wyoming council gave Councillor Tim Wilkins the go-ahead to ask the conservation authority to begin negotiations to turn over the park. Council hoped by taking it over, it could get the park’s key asset – the only public boat launch between Sarnia and Grand Bend – reopened.
It’s been closed for two years and the authority had little interest in putting big bucks into it anytime soon.
In late 2019, the original groyne wall on the west side of the boat launch ramp was damaged due to wave action and is now missing. Water levels on Lake Huron have been high, contributing to erosion on both the east and west sides of the ramp protection structure.
The erosion has exposed the steel sheet pile wall of the boat ramp and has eroded the banks further along the beach which puts the parking lot in jeopardy.
An engineering report suggested it would take $85,000 just for temporary fixes to get the ramp reopened.
The firm added a total of $3 million would have to be invested in the park over the course of a number of years to fully repair the boat launch and protect the banks from erosion.
This fall, the board of the conservation authority opted against putting any money into repairs and instead formed a committee on the future of the park.
That virtually guaranteed the boat ramp would remain closed in 2022.
Plympton-Wyoming councillors didn’t like that option and felt the municipality should step in.
At its Dec. 9 board meeting, the conservation authority agreed to begin talks with Sarnia City Councillor Mike Stark noting the authority’s 2022 budget only sets out $31,000 for repairs at Highland Glen.
Wilkins told board members Plympton-Wyoming is aware of the costs, and after a lengthy discussion is willing to provide what’s needed to maintain the waterfront land.
Negotiations are now underway to strike a deal. It’s likely to be similar to a package the conservation authority and Plympton-Wyoming put together when McEwen Park – just north of Highland Glen – was transferred to the municipality last year.
The town had a management agreement in place, which meant town staff took over maintenance until the provincial government approved the transfer of the park. It’s not clear how long it will take to strike a deal or when it will take affect.