One Boat, Two Boat, Red Boat, Blue Boat

It’s almost always the first reaction when a cottager learns of the proposal to develop the Fraser Estate on Stony Lake into a gated community with 60 housing units, recreational facilities, docks and boats: “But the lake is already so busy!”

It may seem that way, particularly to cottagers who’ve been on the lake long enough to recall a time when paddling across open water on a long weekend didn’t mean taking your life in your hands, but is it really that busy?

According to the Trent Severn Waterway folks, the number of boats travelling through the system has dropped in recent years. But what of lake-generated boat traffic?

In an effort to document the real numbers, Jen Lewis of the Friends of the Fraser Wetlands devised a survey to catalogue the number and kinds of boats on the water during specific times and in specific areas of the lake.  Jen was the first fill out the survey, devoting several hours on the July long weekend to counting the boats that passed in view of her cottage on Fairy Lake Island.

The results? Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday June 29th, Jen counted 310 boats! They included:

• 43 open boats under 25 hp

• 24 open boats over 25 hp

• 119 larger outboards or inboards

• 34 cabin cruisers

• 10 houseboats

• 47 jet skis

• 23 pontoon boats

• 1 tour boat

• 3 airplanes

• 6 kayaks or canoes

This seemed remarkable, even to those of us who’ve argued that boat traffic on the lake is reaching a critical point. So on Monday, June 30th – a seemingly quiet but sunny day on the lake – I decided to use Jen’s template to do my own count of the traffic in front of my family cottage, which is on the Burleigh Shore at the entrance to Juniper Point – the area of highest density on the lake, and a stone’s throw from the Fraser Estate.

I had only an hour to spare, and didn’t expect to count many boats. I was shocked that at the end of the hour – having endeavoured not to count any boats more than once (in other words if someone went past our place 10 times dragging kids on skis or tubes, I would only count them once) – I logged 75 boats! In one hour.

This is only one measure of the pressure we’re placing on our water, but these kinds of numbers beg the question: How much is too much? And will another (potential) 120 boats on the lake, in an area of the lake that boasts the highest density of development, make for safe waters?

What do you think?

– Jennifer David





2 thoughts on “One Boat, Two Boat, Red Boat, Blue Boat

  1. Firstly, Jen Lewis is not on a channel so how could she be counting all these houseboats, tour boat etc passing by her cottage. I believe that she was looking into the channel itself and not as you say passing in front of her cottage. I would imagine that many of these boats are transient and are heading to and from the locks or to Viamede. You can obtain an exact count from both the Burleigh and Young’s Point locks themselves and they have also the information on the size and type of boats that enter the lock at any given time. This way you will be giving everyone the exact data needed when conducting a survey like this. On the 2005 map of Stoney, I count from your cottage in and around Juniper Point to the last cottage on Pine Lane, 64 cottages. IF everyone had ONE boat out that day, which was NOT a quiet day, but rather the Monday before the July 1st long weekend, then I could see you counting 75 boats. If you take into consideration the cottages to the left of you and the cottages on the island to the right of you (which were not part of the 64 cottages I counted), then yes it is a busy area. Remember also that most cottagers have more than one boat, in fact in some cases there is a boat for every family member. You should also have counted cars in their driveways, as I can bet that there was more than one.

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this lake as much as the next person and have been on it for 58 years, but if you are posting something for everyone to see, get your facts correct. I have heard some pretty amazing stories floating around with regards to the Fraser Wetlands and am astounded as to the amount of misinformation out there.

    1. Hi Lily,

      Thanks for reading the blog.

      Perhaps I should have been clearer and stated that Jen’s cottage dock overlooks the channel. From her perch on her dock she not only sees clearly the boat traffic in the nearby channel, but feels the effect of its wake. I can attest to this myself, having visited on her dock recently. Additionally, in the third paragraph of the blog, you may have noticed that I acknowledged that the Trent Severn Waterway notes that traffic through the locks is down. But the “exact count” that you mention only takes into consideration through traffic. It’s the lake-generated traffic – the multiple boats being run by most families – in addition to the through traffic, which is most concerning. Our boat-counting project was merely meant to give an idea of the kind of numbers we’re experiencing – on long weekends in particular.

      As with Jen’s count, my count took into consideration all boats that passed in front of my cottage – and that includes the channel out from my dock.

      I don’t know what kinds of stories are floating around, but this was a straightforward exercise, undertaken in good faith. And unfortunately, the numbers are all too real.

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