Bancroft residents have mixed opinions about whether or not the town should restrict boat access to Clark Lake.

A public meeting was held tonight to present information about why the town is considering restricting motorized-boat access to the lake. The main concern for the town is that zebra mussels, an invasive species in Ontario, could spread into the lake, and in turn Bancroft’s water treatment plant. Zebra mussels have already been found in Wollaston, Diamond, and Paudash lakes.

Councillor Mary Kavanagh says if these zebra mussels spread into Bancroft’s water treatment plant, it would be catastrophic for the town’s drinking water, and expensive to address. Some communities spend up to $500,000 a year to address issues caused by zebra mussels. Kavanagh warns those who believe the town is facing financial hardships to imagine what would happen if this species got into its water treatment plant.

The town has three options when it comes to the issue of zebra mussels. It can continue to put signs up and educate the public about them, close the shore road allowance that leads to the lake, or ban motorized boats altogether. Acting Mayor Paul Jenkins says there is no intention to restrict swimmers, canoes, and kayaks from using the lake, as zebra mussels are most likely to attach themselves to the intakes of motorized boats.

Residents have expressed both criticism and support for the proposal. Moose FM spoke to some of those at the meeting about their thoughts about a potential boating restriction on the lake.

One resident criticized the proposal, saying animals can also spread zebra mussels, and there’s no way to stop them from getting into the lake. Another says the boating restriction would be discriminatory, as property owners on the lake would still be allowed to use their boats on it.

Bancroft staff is expected to present council with a report on the subject in February. If council chooses to close the shore road allowance which provides access to the lake, there would need to be a public notification period. If a decision is reached to apply to have boating restricted on the lake, it would be a lengthy process that would require more public consultation.