Cottagers on Kennisis Lake start education campaign to discourage abandoning docks

discarded docks on Kennisis Lake Photo supplied by Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners Association

Over the last few years, Grant DeMarsh and Scott Durie noticed a troubling trend on Haliburton Highlands’ Kennisis Lake: people were not disposing of their aging docks promptly, and some were even abandoning them in public bays.

“We had a couple of places on the lake where this was becoming quite an eyesore,” says Scott. Aesthetics aside, disintegrating docks aren’t good for the environment, and when large pieces break off and float into the lake, they can become hazardous for boaters. To combat the situation, the Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners Association, of which Grant and Scott are board members, launched an education campaign on dock etiquette, sharing tips and reminders through e-blasts. On the KLCOA website, a dock etiquette guide discourages cottagers from towing old docks to public areas and offers them recommendations, such as giving them away on Facebook Marketplace and notifying the association if you find an unlabelled dock so it can send an e-blast to assist in reuniting
it with the right cottager. It also encourages folks to label their docks with their name and address.

Legislation for abandoned and derelict vessels will affect boat owners

KLCOA also rallied neighbours together for a one-time lake cleanup in August of 2022 to get rid of the waste that had accumulated over the years. Some 25 volunteers dismantled 12 unclaimed docks, hauling about 10 trailer loads of material to the dump. They salvaged metal pieces for recycling and offered items such as styrofoam billets to the community for repurposing. “Part of the education campaign is really just asking people to take better ownership of their property,” says Grant, whose initiative was recently recognized by the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations with an Achievement Award. And it seems to be working: Scott and Grant have both noticed fewer old docks lying about the shores of Kennisis Lake.

This story appeared in the August 2023 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

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