By Mike Anderson

Georgina Council has endorsed a decision by the Town to assume ownership of the Pefferlaw Dam from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA).

According to a Town media release issued on Thursday, the transfer will be completed by the end of this month.

“The Pefferlaw Dam is an integral part of the charm and heritage of this community. It is a unique feature that is synonymous with its downtown, with deep historical roots,” said Mayor Margaret Quirk in the release.

“I want to thank all those involved in making this happen with special acknowledgement of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, who has operated and maintained this special landmark for many years and for their collaboration as we worked through this transition.”

The move follows a technical analysis of the dam by Town staff to assess the full scope of the repairs the dam requires, as well as the costs of assuming ownership of the dam structure and adjacent parcels of land. Although, those costs have not yet been made public.

The Town also entered into an operations agreement with the LSRCA until the transfer of ownership was finalized.

This spring, staff from the LSRCA and the Town worked together to install the stop logs and flashboards at the dam, ensuring its operation this season.

This responsibility will now be assumed by the Town going forward.

“We are pleased to hand off ownership of the Pefferlaw Dam Conservation Area and the ongoing operations and maintenance of the dam to the Town,” said LSRCA Chair Wayne Emmerson, Chair and CEO of York Region, in the release.

“This transfer of ownership and responsibilities will enhance the Conservation Authority’s ability to manage the right lands for the right reasons.

Our focus is on protecting ecologically sensitive lands that help connect and grow the watershed’s natural heritage system and can improve climate change resilience.

This transfer allows the Town to maintain the viability of the Pefferlaw Dam into the future.”

Recommendations from the technical analysis, according to the release, include short-term public safety actions, such as adding signage and buoys.

Rehabilitation work will be scheduled over the next three years.

Further discussions and staff reports outlining the work to be done with associated timelines will be provided to council later this year.

Still, costing will not be known until the proposed work is tendered.

The news is welcomed by Pefferlaw residents, who pushed hard for the Town to take over the dam.

Lee Dale, a spokesperson for Friends Of The Dam, a community lobby group, was hopeful that with the ownership issue resolved, the dam can be rehabilitated and become a significant tourist attraction for the area.

“I’m tremendously excited, and I’m relieved as well,” said Dale, who is also running for Ward 5 Councillor this October.

“A lot of the goings-on with the dam in the last several months have been within closed sessions, and residents that aren’t at the council table weren’t privy to those conversations,” he said.

“It has been a frustrating period. But we are looking forward to what’s ahead because the dam is a historical site and a town feature with tremendous tourism value.”

Dale believes the pressure from Pefferlaw residents, especially during an election year, was responsible for the Town’s decision to take over the dam.

“We are very grateful that the Town is assuming ownership and has put money away for the dam’s rehabilitation. But I do not believe it would have happened without resident involvement,” he said.

“Resident involvement made the difference here. It’s democracy at work.”

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