Red Pine Lake Dam Replacement - Questions & Answers

Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site

Project Details

What work will be completed at Red Pine Lake Dam?

Red Pine Lake Dam is located on Red Pine Lake in Haliburton County in the Trent-Severn watershed area. The current timber crib dam, constructed downstream of Kennisis Lake, has a wooden deck with one sluice measuring 5.2m wide. This dam is at the end of its normal expected service life. Parks Canada will fully replace the Red Pine Lake Dam through the Federal Infrastructure Investment program.

The new dam has been designed with two sluices spanning the same width, and its longevity will be increased by utilizing concrete construction with a metal deck. The new dam’s location will be 14m upstream of the current dam as a result of more favorable bedrock conditions in that location.

Access to the Red Pine Lake Dam is by water only. This adds a challenging element to modern construction. To facilitate reliable construction, sections of the upstream river will be dredged to allow access for a construction barge to and from the site. In an effort to minimize costs, environmental impact and public interruptions, the project will be accessed via West Shore Road.

Contractors are expected to commence work in the summer of 2021 and the work will span three calendar years. It is anticipated that construction in 2021 will be mainly ancillary to the dam and consist of dredging, cofferdam and bypass channel installation, transportation of material and site setup. Since the project is water access, limited to no work will be completed over the winter period. The project will resume with construction of the dam expected mainly in 2022. Full restoration and demobilization are expected to be completed in 2023.

Why does the Red Pine Lake Dam need to be replaced?

The Red Pine Lake Dam is an integral part of the water management structure in Ontario. The dam was originally built prior to 1878, and has seen many changes and improvements over the years. The current timber crib structure was constructed in a style that was common up until the late 1800s. Engineering inspections in recent years have identified the declining condition of the Red Pine Lake Dam. The wood structure has outlived its normal expected service life and will be replaced.

A number of measures have been implemented while the design and procurement of the project were completed. This included meter bags, (larger version of a typical sand bag), placed at the downstream area of the dam as a short-term erosion protection measure as well as sand bags on top of the cribbing to add stability in advance of the forthcoming replacement.

Why did Parks Canada decide to replace the historical timber crib dam with a concrete dam?

Parks Canada is leading important infrastructure work to ensure safe, high-quality experiences for visitors by improving heritage, visitor, waterway, and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas, including along the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site.

The current Red Pine Lake Dam was constructed using timber cribbing in a style that was common up until the late 1800s. Modern dam safety engineering guidelines do not consider timber as an acceptable construction material for new construction. The concrete construction will extend the lifespan of the dam, increase safety and reduce maintenance needed at the site.

Parks Canada notified the public of the project in 2017. Why has it taken so long to progress to construction?

The built structures that make up the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site, including the dams, locks and bridges, are historic and complex assets. These projects are managed using established program delivery practices to ensure quality work and value for Canadians. With heritage structures and such major required work, as is the case with Red Pine Lake Dam, it is not uncommon for these projects delivery date to change. In addition, the investigative work, analysis, planning and design efforts required for dam replacement projects is significant.

In addition, the Red Pine Lake Dam presents a unique challenge because the primary means of construction access is via water. Parks Canada completed preliminary assessments to ensure the most appropriate way forward for both the design of the new dam and the implementation of its construction. For example, the hydraulic capacity of the dam and watercourse required a study prior to the commencement of the project design. Finally, the complex land ownership of this site and its access required the formal engagement with other municipal, provincial and federal stakeholders.

Public impact

How will this construction impact local residents?

Parks Canada has made every effort to minimize impacts on local residents. Although the dam is accessible by water, transportation will be from the furthest road access point off the West Shore Road. Residents can expect construction noise as this is unavoidable in a project of this size however, it is expected to be restricted to daytime hours and will respect local by-laws, unless otherwise notified.

Residents who access their properties via Kennisis Lake Dam will be able to continue to do so throughout construction. There is possibility of boating delays as slow moving construction equipment is moved across the water however, the wait times are not expected to be significant.

Will access to angling in the area be restricted?

Construction activities and personnel will mainly be located in and around the dam and the water access point on West Shore Road. No restrictions have been implemented in and around Red Pine Lake.

Will Kennisis Lake Dam be impacted during construction?

A property has been leased off the West Shore Road which will greatly minimize impacts at the Kennisis Lake Dam area. Construction activity should not affect the public’s use of the boat launch, navigation through the channel or create parking shortages at the Kennisis Lake dam public lot.

Where can I find more information?

To find up-to-date news about this or other infrastructure projects in your area, please visit To enroll for email updates about the project to replace the dam, please contact us at and include “Red Pine Lake Dam” in the subject heading.

Water management

Will the construction project impact water levels?

Red Pine Lake water levels are typically highest in May and reach their low point by October. Assuming average levels of precipitation, this will not be significantly different during construction.


What is dredging?

Dredging is the excavation of material from a water environment. In the case of the Red Pine Lake Dam project, a machine will dredge along a pre-determined path from West Shore Road to Red Pine Lake Dam to deepen the waterway to allow a construction barge to bring materials and equipment to and from the site.

Why is Parks Canada dredging?

Access to Red Pine Lake Dam is by water only. To facilitate reliable construction, sections of the river/lake upstream of the dam will be dredged to allow access for a construction barge to and from the site.

What is the dredging path?

In an effort to minimize costs, environmental impact and public interruptions, the project will be accessed via the West Shore Road. Dredging will begin at a water access point off the West Shore Road, moving across Red Pine Lake to Red Pine Lake Dam. Please see the map below for the dredging route.

Will there be impacts to the water and shorelines from dredging?

We anticipate minimal impacts to the surrounding area from dredging.


Has there been an environmental assessment done for this project?

Parks Canada’s environmental team is engaged right from the start of each project; scrutinizing project plans and processes and looking for ways to avoid, reduce or offset a project’s potential to impact our environment. An Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted for the project with review by Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for impact to fish and fish habitat. A letter of advice was provided by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have also had their input on the project scope.

Will the construction project impact fish species?

The project has been timed to avoid impacts to fish. The recommended in water work restrictions to avoid impact both to Lake Trout spawning in fall and to spring spawners such as bass and sunfish, will be implemented. Mitigation will be employed to avoid sedimentation of the watercourse throughout the construction.

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