NORTH BATTLEFORD-- Concerned citizens who know the failure of the Jackfish Lake – Lehman Creek breakwater could seriously affect water levels in both Jackfish and Murray Lake, affecting fish migration and recreational activities, are in fundraising mode.
The project steering committee for the Jackfish Lake Breakwater Project released a public information report as of Jan. 24 of 2024.
The estimated total cost of the project Is $1.8 M and has been developed by the village of Cochin’s contracted consulting engineers WSP. A funding report entitled “Friends of Jackfish Lake” has been posted on the Jackfish Lake Breakwater Project Facebook page and on Cochin’s web site. All monies received are held in trust for this project. and for this project only. The project’s financials will be audited by an independent auditor. Currently, approximately $500,000 remains to be raised.
A boost for the project was received from members of the Whitwell family, who presented the Breakwater Rehabilitation Committee with a grant from the Michael Whitwell Memorial Fund, in the amount of $11,538.55, to support the Jackfish Lake – Lehman Creek Breakwater Project.
The release from the Battleford’s District Community Foundation quoted Michel’s parents, Roddy, Candy and sister Brittany Fader, “Mike’s love and respect for the lakes helped us to make the decision to support this project. He was passionate about the fish and wildlife,” they said. “The lake was a huge and important part of his life. Supporting its longevity in his memory is an honour. We encourage others to support this important project.”
The fund established with BDCF, after Micheal’s passing in 2011, has also provided support for the dock in Cochin. The BDCF manages more than 28 funds that contribute to a wide range of interests and you can find more information from this foundation on their website bdcf.ca.
Cochin's mayor, Harvey Walker, said of the donation, “This generous gift in Michael’s memory helps assure we will make our fundraising goal. Rehabilitation is essential to maintaining the flow of water between the two lakes as structural failure of the breakwater is on the horizon, and if that occurs, navigation between the lakes will, among other negative results, be a thing of the past. We thank the Whitwell family for their vision.”
Walker says the best way to access information about this project is to go to the Jackfish Lake Breakwater Project page on Facebook or the Cochin website at www.cochin.ca. In addition to all the details on the Breakwater Project, the website shows those who have contributed to the project so far. All donors will receive a charitable tax receipt.
Early in the Cochin council’s first term, councillors examined the state of disrepair of the breakwater and determined urgent action was needed to prevent total failure of the structure which could result in a return to the historically blocked creek mouth. From there a Committee of Council, designated as the Project Steering Committee was struck and a Project Charter was created.
The steering committee is comprised of Harvey Walker, Mayor of Cochin as chair, Peter Wiesner, Cochin councillor, Sherry Jimmy, reeve of the RM of Meota, Ruth Seime, chair of the Saskatchewan Association of Watersheds, and Moosomin First Nation and Saulteaux First Nation representatives. Rob Wiebe is a technical advisor. The Communications Sub-Committee consists of Alexis Christensen along with David and Joy Regnier, who are personally committed to the project.
Cochin mayor and council reiterate that no committee member is being paid from any funds raised to support this project. Every dollar raised through donations or grants will be spent on the Breakwater Project.
Failure of the breakwater could seriously affect water levels in both lakes and could interfere with fish migration as well as negatively affect recreational activities on both lakes, ultimately impacting property owners, daily users and tourists, all of whom spend significant dollars at business in the area. It is important to note that the breakwater’s rehabilitation is a lake community’s responsibility and not just a Cochin issue.
The public report indicates construction tendering and contract process will take place in early 2024. It is anticipated that shovels will be in the ground by August of 2024, with construction hoped to be completed before the year is over.