Several Muskoka municipalities that grappled with flooding emergencies over the past few weeks are continuing their recovery efforts as cottagers flock to the district for the Victoria Day long weekend.
“We know we’ll see a lot of people around this weekend, that it might be their first time really up and able to kind of deal with their seasonal properties,” Bracebridge mayor Graydon Smith told Global News Friday.
People who are coming to Bracebridge for the long weekend may see debris in unexpected places, many sandbags around and others trying to tidy up from the floods, Smith added.
In Muskoka Lakes, cottagers can expect to see a similar sight, according to local mayor Phil Harding.
“Some of them may have their docks missing. Some of them may have stuff that’s been floating around their boathouses,” Harding said. “What happened in a lot of cases is that water came up into the boathouse, floated boats around, floated items out of their boathouses, and have moved it around the lake.”
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People may also have a lot of debris on their own property, Harding added, specifically on their docks.
“Some people are concerned they’re getting debris washing up on their shoreline or next to their boathouse,” Smith said. “What to do with that is really still a lingering question.”
According to Smith, the town is looking for help from the federal or provincial governments regarding debris but hasn’t received answers yet.
In Bracebridge, Smith said, water levels are on the high end of normal.
“We’re currently evaluating all of our docks and wharfs and making sure our infrastructure is safe,” Harding added, referring to Muskoka Lakes.
On Tuesday, navigation restrictions were lifted that were implemented by Transport Canada for Lake Muskoka, the Moon River, and the north and south branches of the Muskoka River.
Navigation restrictions lifted for Muskoka
OPP and local mayors are advising people who go out in boats to proceed with extreme caution.
“Debris still remains and if anyone is in any sort of boat, they should exercise extreme caution and travel at low speed,” Smith said.
According to Harding, all the roads in Muskoka Lakes are open and passable, however, some of the seasonal roads may not be up to the expected standard because Public Works has been dealing with flood issues.
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“Many of the marinas have been stalled because they couldn’t be on the water,” Harding said. “They didn’t want to put people’s boats in the water just because the water was so high.”
In Bracebridge, Smith added, some roads still need some level of repairs. “Some of these roads are in absolutely terrible shape, and people need to be really cautious on the roads,” he said.
The Disaster Recovery Program for Ontarians, which provides financial assistance to those eligible, has been activated for primary residents in Bracebridge, Muskoka Lakes and Huntsville whose properties have been affected by floods.
On Thursday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit lifted its drinking water advisory for residents with wells who are no longer affected by floods.
Muskoka Lakes lifted its flooding emergency declaration Wednesday, Bracebridge on Monday and Huntsville on May 1.
“As being able to service all our visitors, we’re ready, we’re excited to see everybody back for another great season,” Smith said of the Victoria Day long weekend.
In Muskoka Lakes, however, Harding said the start of the season may begin slower than usual.
“It’s definitely going to be a different holiday weekend this year for many people, and definitely a much slower start to the season,” he finished.
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