Construction to resume on Scotts Mills Dam in Peterborough


Construction on the Trent-Severn Waterway’s Scotts Mills Dam at Lock 19 on the Otonabee River in Peterborough is set to resume shortly — as early as this week, according to a media release from Parks Canada.

Pile driving won’t resume until June.

Construction will focus on the first two sluices and completion of the secant retaining wall on the eastern shoreline. Demolition and excavation are almost complete, with construction of the pier, base slab, and stilling basin to follow.

The project started last spring and is expected to last up to three years.

The federal government is spending $28.8 million to replace the dam and the construction will be in phases to continue managing water flow through the dam to mitigate flooding.

pars canada peterborough

This project is part of more than a $125 million investment in Parks Canada assets in the City of Peterborough, through an unprecedented five year program of infrastructure work across Parks Canada sites.

Engineering inspections determined the dam was nearing the end of its useful life and the replacement structure will respect the historic look of the site and has a life expectancy of more than 80 years.

The new dam will optimize hydraulic capacity, increase the safety of water management operations, and be constructed in a way that allows improved access for maintenance activities. In addition, the project will be the first step in creating a more public friendly lock site, with pedestrian access onto the dam itself restored.

Parks Canada describes it as a “link in a chain of dams across Ontario that help manage water, achieving a variety of objectives including navigation, mitigation of flooding, and the protection of the environment.”

Within Peterborough, it helps regulate upstream and downstream water levels, including Little Lake which serves the waterside economy and quality of life that Peterborough residents enjoy.

The replacement of the dam at Lock 19 holds logistical challenges because of its location in an urban area. Parks Canada purchased four properties adjacent to the dam on the east side to use for construction staging. During the project, this space may be used to store materials, manoeuvre machinery, and access the construction site.

Unique to many construction projects on the Trent-Severn Waterway, Parks Canada must maintain an ability to manage water through the dam during construction to mitigate the risk of flooding upstream and downstream of the dam, and within the City of Peterborough. For this reason, the dam will be constructed in phases, and construction will be scheduled to maximize flow capacity during the spring melt.


  1. I clearly have no idea what the construction industry in Ontario has for best practices. I was saddened today that the construction team in the mentioned article did not observe 2 minutes of silence during Remembrance Day service. The banging continued uninterupted. Shameful. How very disrespectful of a federal construction project not to observe silence for all those who have sacrificed and those that serve today. So I am interested if there are best practices that cover this. Thank you.


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