$6.5-Million Needed to Stop Erosion of Peche Island

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Windsor City Council is concerned that Peche Island won't be there if the city chooses to do nothing.

The remote park at the neck of Lake St. Clair needs immediate work to stop erosion from eating the island away.

According to the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), the island has lost 17 acres, nearly 20 per cent of its mass, since 1930.

The city has already contributed $2.5-million, with ERCA chipping in an additional $600,000 with the total price tag to mitigate flooding and erosion estimated to cost $6.5-million.

Mayor Drew Dilkens tells CTV Windsor it's worth the cost to preserve the island for future generations.

"We're at the point now where if we don't make these investments, you might as well just take everything out, move away and let the island erode," says Dilkens. "That's not how I see it. I want to make sure future generations can continue to come here, continue to enjoy this amazing place."

Phase one will see a series of rock walls to preserve the north side, while also providing a home to endangered fish species like the Northern Mad Tom small catfish.

Shorelines need to be restored and strengthened with high water levels causing erosion on the north and north-east side of the island, according to ERCA's Kevin Money.

"With all the freighters going by daily or regularly, that creates a lot of big waves," say Money. "And those big waves have an impact on the shoreline."

Dilkens also believes fixing up the iconic bridge built by Hiram Walker in the 1880s will be necessary to allow continued access throughout the island at a cost of $500,000.

"It's like an oasis in the city. And we're really lucky to have it," he says. "If you think living in the City of Windsor and you think having Ojibway in your backyard is special, coming to Peche Island is spectacular."

The project is being broken into two phases, with 40 per cent of funding already committed by city council with the city applying for federal funding to offset future costs.

Once the shoreline is restored a bigger rock wall with 11,000 metric tons of aggregate will have to be shipped into place by barge to protect it.

Work is expected to take two years and should preserve the Island for the next century.

 

— With files from CTV Windsor