A view of the east side of the Howson Dam shows significant erosion (Photo by Adam Bell for BlackburnNews.com)A view of the east side of the Howson Dam shows significant erosion (Photo by Adam Bell for BlackburnNews.com)

Decision On Wingham's Howson Dam Expected Next Month

Members of North Huron Council saw a lot of support Monday night from residents who want to save the Howson Dam.

Four members of the "Save the Howson Dam" group spoke to council, expressing their desire to support either replacing or refurbishing the dam, which was deemed "potentially hazardous" in a recent study.

The group members lamented council's inaction on the dam over the years, which has caused the structure to fall into disrepair.  The bridge over the dam had to be sealed off from foot traffic earlier this year.

Linda Heron of the Ontario River Alliance also gave a presentation, and while she sympathized with affected residents, she says the O-R-A requests council to "do what is best for the whole", but did note that decommissioning the dam at a cost of approximately $436,000 would be the most affordable option by far.

A study conducted by KGS Group noted a new dam could cost between three-and-six million dollars, while demolition of the dam would cost around $500,000.

Wingham resident Andy McBride lamented council spending money set aside in reserves being spent on engineering studies on the dam, touting the dam's ability to withstand recent flood events. He criticized the KGS Group study for "providing no proof in the way of revised floodplain mapping" when it came to safety concerns.

Wingham Ward Councillor Trevor Seip says "the issue with me is economics", and although he says he is not against refurbishment, he will be pushing for more information before saying how he feels about the dam's future.

North Huron is expected to vote on the future of the Howson Dam before July 27, which is the beginning of the lame duck period before municipal elections in the fall.

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