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Welcome To The Website of the
Upper French River Cottagers Association

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The French River is located in Ontario, Canada, and defines the boundary between Parry Sound and Nipissing Districts. The French River flows southwest from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay. The "Upper" French River lies between Lake Nipissing and the Chaudiere Dams at Dokis First Nation. An historic First Nation and fur trade canoe route, the French River is now a Provincial Park, the home to citizens of Dokis First Nation, and the summer residence of hundreds of cottagers.

The Members menu (at left) displays Membership Information and Form, but more options are available when members Log In.


February News

Obituaries for Sam Trescher and Dennis Brodie
Posted February 11, 2015

We extend our condolences to the family of Fred “Sam” Trescher (1927-2015) who died recently on February 4, 2015. Sam was a cottager on the French for almost his entire lifetime, and daughter Liz Gallagher currently serves on the Board of Directors for the UFRCA. The obituary may be seen at!/Obituary
We also extend our condolences to another long-time cottager on the French River: Dennis Brodie of North Bay (1947-2014). Dennis died on November 2, 2014, and we extend our belated sympathies to Theresa and family. The obituary may be seen at

January News 


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Winter of 2015 has generally been cold and snowy. To UFRCA Members: The Photo Contest is open for entries. See the Social and Events page for full details. The photo at left, taken by Clayton Dokis, is looking up-river from the point just north of the Riverview Cottages docks.



December News

Posted December 3, 2014
December Newsletter

The December newsletter was distributed to current members on December 1. If you did not receive the newsletter, contact

Updated December 4, 2014
Lake Nipissing Ice Covered

The date when the lake is declared ice free in the spring generates much interest and has been recorded for many years. However, the date in late fall when the lake is completely ice-covered is not widely noted and records have not been kept, as far as we know. But this is being recognized as more important now as global climate change and global warming affect local weather patterns, and the duration of ice coverage may become an important statistic. Open water can generate localized lake-effect snow and moderate temperatures on land. Also, the formation of "good" ice affects travel and winter ice fishing on the lake.

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On December 2, Lake Nipissing, as seen from the end of Cranberry Trail in Callander, Ontario, was observed to be mostly ice covered with a few patches of what may have been open water. (Verifying this out was not a wise option!) On December 3, the Greater Nipissing Stewardship Council web cam (located east of the Sturgeon River on the north shore of Lake Nipissing) shows that the lake appears to be completely ice and snow covered. So very unofficially, we can declare that Lake Nipissing may have been ice covered on December 3. (An MNR source informs us on December 4 that there may be open water near the Manitous.)

French River Dam Complex to get major upgrade

Posted November 4, 2014
Monday, November 03, 2014 by: Staff

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Jay Aspin, MP for Nipissing-Timiskaming announced the awarding of a construction contract for the Big Chaudière Dam Replacement Project at the French River Dam Complex near Dokis, Ontario, to EBC Inc., of Brossard, Quebec. “The Dam is being replaced to ensure its continued function and operation,” said Aspin. “This contract award is a sizeable investment in the region. Our Government is ensuring this important piece of infrastructure continues to serve citizens by managing the water levels of Lake Nipissing and the French River.” The Big Chaudière Dam was built between 1910 and 1916 and consists of two concrete structures with large steel gates divided by a rock island.

The French River is part of a vast watershed in Ontario that drains Lake Nipissing into Georgian Bay. The French River Dam Complex is made up of three dams: the Big Chaudière Dam, the Portage Dam and the Little Chaudière Dam. These structures control the outflow from Lake Nipissing and are essential for maintaining its water level and for regulating the flow of water into the 105-kilometre-long French River. Construction started during the first week of October and is scheduled to be completed in summer 2016. 

Click here  for background information.


October News

Updated October 28, 2014

On October 19, it was reported in the North Bay Nugget that Nipissing First Nation has suspended netting on Lake Nipissing due to concerns about the fish stocks. For the full Nugget report see On The Water / Native Fishing.

The first newsletter of the 2014-15 season was distributed by e-mail on October 17. Newsletters were sent only to current UFRCA members (those who have paid for the current membership year July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015). If you did not receive the newsletter, but should have, contact right away. We may need a corrected e-mail address.

As you know, October 27 is the date of municipal elections across Ontario. Due to the efforts of the UFRCA eight years ago, West Nipissing Municipality now has a mail-in voting process. Canadian residents who own property in Bertram Township have now received (or will soon receive) their mail-in ballots. Mayor Joanne Savage has been acclaimed. There are two candidates for Ward 8 Councillor: incumbent Guy Fortier and Rodney Wolfe. There are also elections for school board trustees, and the candidates vary depending on which school board is supported by the property owner.  Ballots must be mailed by October 18, 2014. 

"Fortin Re-elected -
The results of the Ward 8 election in the Municipality of West Nipissing are in.  Incumbent Guy Fortin has been re-elected with a comfortable margin.  Mr. Fortin received 258 votes compared to challenger Rodney Wolfe’s 205 votes.   There were no challengers for the Mayor's Office, with Joanne Savage, first elected in 2003, acclaimed for another term.  West Nipissing, with a total population of 14,149, has 11,904 eligible voters.  Voter turnout yesterday was 5,256 or 44.15% of those eligible to vote. 
(Source: Association of Municipalities of Ontario Web site.)

The unorganized townships of Patterson and Hardy (south side of the Upper French) are in Parry Sound District. Cottage owners who are Canadian citizens have received a ballot to elect 2 representatives on the Parry Sound District Social Services Board. Information on candidates may be found at  Click on TWOMO Election.

On October 15, we  distributed an e-mail to Canadian resident property owners and provided information received from the Bertram Township Ward 8 councillor candidates.


AGM Draft Minutes Posted

Posted September 16, 2014
The Draft Minutes from the Annual General Meeting held on August 3, 2014, are now posted. In the members section of the web site, click on Annual Meetings. These minutes will not be finalized until they are adopted by the membership at the 2015 AGM.

A Glimpse of the Past

Posted August 26, 2014

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At left - The Hazel B docks at Island 91 in 1927. Note the casual summer attire.

At right - Many cottagers used the Lizette to get to their cottages in the 1950s and 60s.

Thanks to Bert Clarke for providing these photos. An overview of many of the boats that have travelled the French and Lake Nipissing may be seen on the History page - French River and Lake Nipissing Travel. 

Fishing News

Posted August 15, 2014
The MNR has produced a study paper "5 Critical Facts about Walleye in Lake Nipissing". It can be seen here.  

Recently, abandoned nets have been found on Lake Nipissing. An article from the Sturgeon Falls Tribune on this controversy may be seen here.  The MNR is urging anyone with information about the nets to contact the MNR TIPS line at 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free any time. Near North Crime Stoppers will be doubling the reward amount (up to a maximum of $2000) for information that will assist the MNR in identifying the owner(s) of unattended gill nets in Lake Nipissing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Near North Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or submit a tip online at or by texting ‘Nipper’ and TIP info to CRIMES (274637). 

Lastly, the July, 2014, issue of Ontario Out of Doors includes an article on the MNR's proposal to eliminate the seniors' exemption from needing to purchase fishing licences and replacing the exemption, in 2016, with a "seniors discount" on conservation and sport fishing licences. See the related article from the May 29 issue of Ontario Out of Doors here.

AGM Report

Posted August 14, 2014
The UFRCA Annual General Meeting was held successfully at Dokis on August 3. Draft minutes of the meeting will be posted in the Members Section when they become available in the next few weeks. The Board of Directors welcomes new member Liz Gallagher while Jane Eastmure has retired from the Board. Continuing Board members include Sam Goodwin, Peter Rooney, Wendy Kennedy-Sadler, Dave Minden, Grant Hobson, Jeff Hamilton, Kaely McDermott, and Holly Waters. Positions of responsibility will be determined at the first Board meeting.

Photo Contest Winners are posted

Posted August 3, 2014
The photo contest winners are posted in the Photo Gallery. Congratulations to all the winners who captured these spectacular images. 

Dock Sale and AGM Coming Up

Don't forget that the Dock Sale is slated for Saturday July 26 followed by the AGM on Sunday August 3. A highlight of the AGM will be the presentation of awards for the Photo Contest. For full details, see the EVENTS page.

Click here to see the map of dock sale locations.. Copies of the maps are available at Sandy Haven Camp on Sandy Island, Starlite Marina on the Sturgeon River, and Riverview Cottages at Dokis.

Richard Viau

Posted July 15, 2014
The UFRCA extends its condolences to Valarie Viau and family at Dokis. Valarie's husband Richard died recently in Sudbury after a lengthy battle with cancer. See for details.

10 km/h Speed Limit posted in Canoe Pass

Updated July 12, 2014

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Thank you West Nipissing firefighters who installed the 10 km/h speed limit signage at Canoe Pass on July 10, 2014. Click to enlarge photos. See full details in article below.

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 North end sign

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South end sign 

Posted June 17, 2014
by Sam Goodwin - Municipal Liaison

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Have you ever had that experience of either being about to enter or leave Canoe Pass only to find at the last minute that another boat is heading towards you at full speed?  Well, with the increase in boating traffic on Lake Nipissing and the Upper French River in recent years, more and more cottagers and visitors to the area are finding themselves in just that situation.

It’s not that the existing Transport Canada speed limit of 10 km/h within 30 metres of shore doesn’t apply to Canoe Pass.  But the reality seems to be that many people either don’t realize that or may just need to be reminded.

And so UFCRA has been working with the Municipality of West Nipissing on having official Transport Canada speed limit signs (see image at left) in place at both ends of Canoe Pass by July 1 of this year. Read more in On the Water - Boating

Emergency Equipment First Response at Sandy Haven

Posted June 17, 2014
By Sam Goodwin (Municipal Liaison Committee – UFRCA)

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Health and safety on the Upper French River is an important issue and ongoing concern for members of the UFCRA.  We are all aware that this place we love to spend time at is also remote and rugged, and that in the event of an accident or illness, it’s just not going to be possible to get the same kind of access to emergency medical services that we would at home.

And so this year, the UFRCA has been working on something a little different but also something that we believe has the potential to make a real difference to the health and safety of everyone on the Upper French River, regardless of whether you’re a cottager or a visitor to the area and even if you’re not a member of the UFRCA.  

That “something different” is a pilot project to test how effective it would be to have some basic emergency equipment available at Sandy Haven Fishing Camp and a team of volunteers that could use that equipment to be first responders in emergency situations.  Read more at Security / Health.

Dock Sale July 26 Plans Finalized

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Posted June 14, 2014. We're all set for the July 26 dock sale. Eight distinct cottage locations will offer a huge variety of items for sale. Click here to see the full map of locations and a partial list of what's for sale at each.

The 8 individual maps give GPS coordinates and arrows to show exact locations. Maps will also be available at Riverview, Sandy Haven, and Starlite Marina. Or print a map and bring it with you to the cottage. Only UFRCA members can host sale sites, but the dock sale is open to one and all, and we welcome everyone to take in this unique event.


Photo Contest Entries Posted

Posted June 11, 2014
Entries for the 2013-14 Photo Contest have now been posted in the Photo Gallery. Judging has now ended and the winners will be announced at the Annual General Meeting on Aug. 3 at the Dokis Community Centre. Check the EVENTS page for full AGM details.


Events at Dokis This Summer

See the Dokis First Nation page for information on the annual Pow-wow June 28-29 and Summerfest on the weekend of July 18-20. Cottagers are invited and welcome to attend these events.

French River Authors

Posted June 11, 2014
UFRCA members John McFadgen (past Board member) and David McFadgen have co-authored and published a children's book Henry the Heron, which can be ordered through their web site 

David McFadgen writes, "This is a true story of a great blue heron reaching out to man for help. This story happened on the French River in Ontario, Canada. The French River is still untouched and has significant wildlife on it. Every time this story is told, the listener has always become fascinated with it and hopefully you will too."

Henry the Heron will be on sale at the Annual General Meeting on August 3, and John McFadgen will be there to sign copies. 

Outdoor Cards and Licences Available On-line

Posted June 2, 2014
Outdoor cards and fishing licences are available on-line from the MNR here

Valarie Viau advises that Riverview no longer sells fishing licences, but besides the MNR web site, you can also pick them up at the French River Trading Post, any Canadian Tire Store, Trucheon Fuels in Sturgeon Falls, or at Chaudiere Lodge. 

June 1 Newsletter Distributed to Members 

Posted June 2, 2014
The June 1 Newsletter has been distributed to all current members. If you did not receive the newsletter but should have, contact

Portage Dam Hydro Electric Project

Posted May 23, 2014

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Clayton Dokis led a group from MNR and the Nipissing Forest Local Citizens Committee on a visit May 21 to the Portage Dam hydro-electric project.

The current work is focusing on the turbine support structures at the bottom of the new blasted channel. Hydro power generation is expected to commence in July of 2015.

Click on the photo to enlarge. The photo is looking downstream with the French River in the distance. The steel gate prevents down-stream water from backing up into the construction area. The Portage Dam itself is out of sight to the left of the area shown.

Water Level Very High but Stabilizing

Posted May 22, 2014
Inflows to Lake Nipissing and the Upper French seem to be decreasing now and the lake level appears to have stabilized around 196.2 metres above sea level. This is about 25 cm above the summer level. On the holiday weekend, the Sturgeon River was flowing very fast and carrying logs and other debris into the lake. Keep a good eye on the surface for 'dead heads'.

Walleye - New regulations take effect May 17

Posted May 17, 2014
As the fishing season gets underway, please be aware of and follow the new regulations regarding Walleye and the new slot size . The new Walleye regulations take effect May 17, 2014. Note that the Bass season opens one week earlier this year on June 21 and the limit for Perch has been increased. Walleye aren't the only fish in the lake!

Lake Nipissing Now Not Yet Finally Clear Of Ice

Updated Thursday May 15, 2014
It's official. The North Bay Nugget has declared May 14 as the date that Lake Nipissing was free of ice. See for details. 

Updated Monday May 12, 2014
Monday's Nugget reports: "Well the ice isn't off Lake Nipissing just yet. Jeff Sullivan of Helicopters Canada Flight Training School and Charter said crews were up in the air Monday and saw ice floating around the west side of Manitou Islands. “For the most part it is clear, but there was still some ice near the islands,” he told The Nugget Monday morning. 

Posted Sunday May 11, 2014
Heavy rain and strong winds on Friday May 9 combined to eliminate remaining ice from Lake Nipissing, as seen in this Environment Canada satellite image, dated May 10, 2014. We are making this call even though we have not seen any official report in the media. We expect to see an official announcement that the lake was ice free this year on May 10. Caution is advised when travelling on the lake. The water is still extremely cold. Watch for floating debris



River Clear of Ice - Lake Nipissing not yet but soon

Posted May 8, 2014

Valarie at Riverview reports that the river is clear of ice; in fact it has been clear since Friday May 2, and some cottagers have already been in. The situation on Lake Nipissing is changing quickly and the lake may soon be declared ice free. There was a lot of white ice seen from the North Bay waterfront on Monday, but today it is no longer visible. The web cam on the north shore of the lake reveals open water a long way out, but there appears to be white ice in the distance near Iron and Sandy Islands. We will update this report when new information is available.

If you're on the water, keep a good eye on the water for not only ice but also floating debris from the spring runoff.


At left: Lake Nipissing May 6, 2014 (Environment Canada Satellite Imagery)


At left: May 7, 2014. Ice coverage is decreasing.
(Environment Canada)


Upcoming Events

Click on the Events Page at left for full details on:

Photo Contest (Entries now closed)
Dokis Summerfest
Dock Sale (Register as host site by May 15, 2014)
Annual General Meeting


French River Photos by Clayton Dokis

Posted April 23, 2014

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For other photos of the river and area, see the Photo Gallery.



Lake Nipissing Web Cam

Posted April 15, 2014
See the right-side links for a current web cam view of Lake Nipissing, courtesy of the Greater Nipissing Stewardship Council. The web cam is located at a lakeside home on the north shore about 1.5 km east of the mouth of the Sturgeon River. The outflow of the Sturgeon is responsible for opening this portion early. In the far background, the distant shoreline on the right side of the image is Sandy Island. The darker more prominent island in the centre of the image is Iron Island, recognized by the hump on the left (west) side.

Flood Outlook/Watch is in effect for area waterways

Updated April 23, 2014
A "flood watch" is now in effect for waterways in the North Bay area including the French River. See 

Posted April 13, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014   by: Kate Adams

The Ministry of Natural Resources - North Bay District is advising area residents of South River, Ottawa River, Pickerel River, Mattawa River, French River, Sturgeon River and Lake Nipissing that a Watershed Conditions Statement - Flood Outlook is in effect in these areas.

Residents in these watersheds should keep a close watch on conditions, regularly check for updated messages and stay away from fast-moving rivers and streams. MNR is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions. Further updates will be issued as appropriate.

*FLOOD OUTLOOK: gives early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions



Posted April 10, 2014
A special edition newsletter was distributed April 10 to current UFRCA members. If you should have received the newsletter but did not, contact

 Response to MNR Fishery Announcement

Posted March 27, 2014
The MNR announcement on Tuesday March 25 regarding the walleye catch (possession) limit and new slot size has resulted in a flurry of comments and related news articles. They are available here in PDF format. (From the North Bay Nugget, March 27, 2014)

Opinion article from Marianna Couchie, Chief, Nipissing First Nation
Opinion article from Nugget writer Dave Dale 
News article regarding local tourism operators 

Posted April 7, 2014

Article by UFRCA Rep on Lake Nipissing Fishery Advisory Council

MNR: Catch limits remain at two walleye 


By DAVE DALE, The Nugget
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 2:24:26 EDT PM

Anglers on Lake Nipissing will still be able to keep a maximum of two walleye next year if the Ministry of Natural Resources draft management plan is implemented as presented for public input today.

But only those walleye over 46 centimetres (18 inches) can be kept in a bid to save a fishery described as "stress and at high risk of significant decline."

There was speculation the province was going to reduce the limit to one walleye from the two allowed this year. The limit was cut in half from the previous limit of four Jan. 1, 2013.

A slot size restriction protecting spawning walleye 40 to 60 cm is being abandoned after this year.

MNR Minister David Orizietti told The Nugget today that studies indicate there are not enough walleye in the slot size restriction to protect and the province is putting its faith in the smaller year classes. "This would ensure juvenile walleye remain in the lake, reach spawning size and be given a chance to reproduce at least once before being harvested. Catch limits would remain the same: two walleye for sport fish licence holders and one walleye for conservation licence holders," states a media release today.
Orizietti said he has spoken to Nipissing First Nation Chief Marianna Couchie about the issue and the need to reduce the overall pressure on the walleye fishery.

The native commercial gill net and recreational harvest took an estimated 51,000 kilograms of walleye out of the lake in 2013, Orizietti said, adding that the MNR believes the sustainable combined harvest should be 20,000 kg less.

Just a decade ago, based on previous data, the MNR said the sustainable harvest for Lake Nipissing should be 90,000 kg but set a more conservative maximum combined harvest at 66,000 kg. Orizietti said Nipissing FN has a treaty and constitutional right to harvest commercially, so they hope to work with the native community in reducing the overall pressure. will update this story

Click to view the Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan
Picking ice-off date may be longshot

Monday, March 24, 2014 4:53:03 EDT PM

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The annual ice-off guesses are being tossed around at Demarco's Confectionery. Some are hopeful the annual Lake Nipissing ice-off will happen next month, but others aren't as optimistic and are suggesting a more realistic date of May or June. This winter is anything but normal.

North Bay has seen record snowfall levels, unseasonal temperatures and a snowstorm during the first day of spring. So guessing when Lake Nipissing will be ice-free may well be a longshot this year. Despite some parts of the lake reportedly having more than 40 inches of ice, some people are hopeful of a May ice-off.

Others aren't so optimistic. Demarco's Confectionery, a quaint little coffee shop that serves homemade food in North Bay's downtown, holds an ice-off contest every year. The rules to the game are simple. Customers walk in and guess when they think the ice will be completely off Lake Nipissing.
Lisa Demarco, organizer of the ice-off pools, said this year is unlike most.
“The week of April 22 to 28, which is normally sold out, hasn't been touched this year,” she said Monday morning.

“Everyone is snapping up the dates throughout the first two weeks in May.” Last year, the official ice-off date was May 4, but depending who you ask that seems like a long-shot for this year. Demarco said some customers are beyond frustrated and fed up with the cold weather.
“We've had some customers come in and try to buy a date in July,” she said. “We've also had one brave soul predict ice-off by April 20.” Demarco said the latest date in the pools is May 20, but the way things have been going she had considered adding some squares later into the month.

The Nugget asked its Facebook friends what their ice-off predictions were and there were a variety of responses. According to Blair Buchmann, there was more than 45 inches of ice in some spots at the South Shore, over 40 inches in Callander Bay and 42 inches mid lake near Iron Island. “Most of the Sturgeon River is still covered over and until it blows wide open, not much let's go.”

Someone suggested the city could host a second polar bear dip during the August long weekend as part of the Summer In The Park festivities. The first polar bear dip will take place Saturday in support of Special Olympics.
Others were a little more optimistic by suggesting end of April, June or at least by Canada Day.

The latest recorded date for the ice off was set back on May 19, 1926 and the earliest date April 3, 1945. According to the Weather Network, the temperature is expected to remain below seasonal for this time of year until Friday when the thermometer is expected to rise to 3C.

Note - Click here to view all ice-free dates and what to know before making your prediction.


Posted March 11, 2014
In January 2014, The Ministry of Natural Resources released a draft Provincial Fish Strategy for public review and comment for a 120-day period. The document is available on the EBR website at . You can view the PDF document "Ontario's Provincial Fish Strategy" and submit a comment directly from this page. This strategy proposal deals with the entire Great Lakes watershed and does not deal specifically with Lake Nipissing. The Lake Nipissing Fishery Advisory Council has not met since 2013 due to staffing reorganization. We will update any changes to local fishing regulations when they become available.


Posted March 11, 2014
The March newsletter was distributed to current UFRCA members on March 4, 2014. If you should have received the newsletter but did not, contact


 New signage will appear in 2014

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  If you visit a Park campsite in the summer of 2014, look for new signage. After 10 years, the previous white signs were showing evidence of wear and tear, weathering and vandalism, and it was time for a make-over. Jointly funded by the Friends of The French and the Upper French River Cottagers Association, the signage encourages users … Read more   …


Fish on the French

Posted July 19, 2013
UFRCA member Paul Cormier represents the UFRCA on the MNR's Lake Nipissing Fisheries Management Plan Council, and he has provided the following documents. One result of the Council's deliberations over the last several months has been the production of these new fact sheets on the significant fish species in Lake Nipissing. In addition, note the document on specific regulations for Walleye on Lake Nipissing. A comment sheet and questionnaire may be of interest to fishing lodges in the area. Paul will have copies of these documents available at the AGM. 

Yellow Perch Factsheet
Whitefish and Cisco Factsheet
Muskie Factsheet
Northern Pike Factsheet Bass Factsheet 
Lake Nipissing Walleye Data Review
Walleye Regulation Changes 
Comment Sheet and Questionnaire (for Lodges, interested groups) 


New Comprehensive Zoning By-law program

Posted May 20, 2013
"The Municipality of West Nipissing is pleased to be starting the preparation of a new Comprehensive Zoning By-law for the municipality. The new Zoning By-law will amalgamate and update the existing Zoning By-laws in effect in various parts of West Nipissing into one Comprehensive Zoning By-law applicable to the entire municipality. The goal of this process is to create a Zoning By-law, with new mapping and text, which will provide for consistency across the municipality and will be user friendly, easily understood and simple to use." Read more in Municipal Issues - West Nipissing News.