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April 2014 President’s Report

Posted on: April 25, 2014  |  

Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship has plotted a PLANNED MONEY RAISING SCHEME which is based on greed, supported by half truths and aimed at forcing many Manitoba cottagers to pay exhorbitant fee increases or abandon a sacred life style.

On March 8, 2013 the Minister held a surprise news conference to announce his plan to Build the Parks Province; to solicit the approval of people from outside Provincial Parks. It amounted to a smear campaign against free loaders living in $500,000 cottages, who weren’t paying their share of Parks operations. Subsequent news and e-mail releases from his department and hysterical rants by writers in the print media (they know who they are) have insisted that cottagers in Parks are rich whiners who are unwilling to pay their share of Parks operating costs. I have talked to several of the non-cottagers and they have been drawn in by the PLAN and think that MCWS should make cottagers in Parks pay up. Most cottagers live on fixed incomes. You have some clever spin doctors Mr. Minister.

On several occasions there was mention that the cottagers’ share of the annual cost of Parks operation was $4 million dollars. The dollar figure that cottagers were paying, according to the minister, was $1.7 million. Government documents in our possession from 2006-07 show that Manitoba cottagers paid $4,081,198.93 in lease and service fees in that year. Since cottagers have continued to pay the same invoiced fees every year since 2006-07 we must assume that cottagers have paid more than four million dollars each year. The $1.7 million is service fees. The remainder, $2.3 million, is lease fees which goes into general revenue. The Minister doesn’t want to acknowledge that cottagers have paid more than $4 million dollars per year. Neat trick.

We the cottagers in Manitoba Provincial Parks have never said that we would refuse to pay justified fee increases. We do, however, need to see the shares paid by each stakeholder group in the Parks. For the last year the cottagers of the Whiteshell Cottagers Association Inc. have endeavoured to pry information from the financial managers of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. There is a requirement in Sections 18 and 20 of the Parks Act for presentation of information to stakeholders in Manitoba Parks. The response has been feeble partial offerings that were unacceptable. The latest response is the contention that MCWS isn’t required to produce proposed annual budgets for review by stakeholders.

In March of 2013, an average fee increase of two hundred dollars per year per cottage was bandied about in Building the Parks Province. By October 2013, the time when invoices for next year’s payments would normally be sent to cottagers, a finalized fee system was presented. The method for developing huge fee increases was to increase RAW LAND VALUES on all properties, notably on lake front lots (e.g. from $18,000 to $130,000). Based on the 4% of raw land value factor, increases of $500 or more could be realized for each of the next ten years. The justification for the increases were comparisons to taxes on properties in adjacent municipalities and in Riding Mountain National Park. A cottage on the water front in the Lac Du Bonnet and Riding Mountain areas, with full services, was mentioned as comparable to cottages in the Whiteshell. Whoever made the selections for comparison didn’t pick lots with comparable raw land value, from those locations. Clever choices.

None of the huge fee increases, more than $5,000 at the end of ten years for most Whiteshell lake front cottages, were presented to the unsympathetic readers. That might create a guilt attack among socially responsible non-cottagers. It is easier to cloud the fee issue by repeatedly mentioning the $500,000 cottages in the Whiteshell Park while ignoring the fact that park lease fees are charged against RAW LAND VALUE

In order to complete the PLAN, two events have occurred in the past month. The first is the elimination of the “rent look up” web site that allowed cottagers to see the planned increase in their lease and service fees. Cottage Associations were able to use the look up figures to calculate the total fee grab in provincial parks; estimated at two million dollars province wide per year. That fee increase, if allowed to proceed, will be $2 million this year, $4 million next year, $6 million the year after, until it will be $20 million per year at year ten. Only the service fees are dedicated to Park operations. The bulk of the fees collected will be lease fees and will go to general revenue. In his Feb. 27, 2014 newspaper article the Minister said that his actions were not a money grab.

The second event is the rewriting of the Park Regulations and the Cottagers Handbook. Both have been hastily rewritten (sanitized) to absolve the minister of any requirement to consult with stakeholders on financial plans for Provincial Parks. We wonder if the minister will confide with non-cottagers that he sees nothing wrong with taxation without representation.

At the end of the year the Whiteshell Cottagers Association Inc. has no alternative but to litigate against MCWS for failure to come forward and engage in honest and open disclosure of financial management in Provincial Parks.

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Daily Parks update for Friday May 20,2022 (Note from WCA - long report with lots of new items suggest you read in full)Hello WCA, Here are the highlights of today’s information: - We have projections for the Winnipeg River for the next 10-15 days and an estimated crest of early June. - Crescent Beach seawall at West Hawk is barricaded and closed. Please pay attention to signage and do not cross barricades or flagging tape. The travel lane has been moved away from the wall and is narrow in spots, please travel slowly and pay attention to onsite signage. Cottages in the Crescent Beach, High Rock, McKenzie Beach, and Hunt Lake subdivisions should be aware of the potential for a re-route in this area in the event that damage to the boardwalk and seawall continues. - PR307 near the Rennie River/ Heart Lake Boat Launch is now closed to all traffic. Wind and wave action have cause the water in this area to continue rising today. The roadway underneath the water is rough in spots. Manitoba Parks is not advising travel to cottages and trails in the Betula Lake area. - Work was done today on the 8 Foot Falls Black Road today to raise the level of the road and help to maintain access.- Two more boat launches are closed: 8 Foot Falls and West Hawk. - Creekside loop of Old Nutimik Seasonal campground is now closed and campers have been asked to remove their units. Whiteshell Provincial Park: May 20, 2022Water continue to along the lakes that make up the Winnipeg River system. Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret, Eleanor, and Sylvia Lakes as well as the river near the Pointe du Bois subdivision continue to rise as water moves from Lake of the Woods through the Winnipeg River system. Water levels rise quickly in these areas due to natural restrictions of water along the river. Manitoba Hydro has provided an estimate today (May 20) that we can expect the following increases above current level of the Winnipeg River over the next 10-15 days: 8 Foot Falls - 1.2 Feet, Nutimik Lake - 2.1 Feet, Dorothy Lake – 1.9 Feet, 2.2 – Margaret/ Eleanor Lake, and 2.3 Feet – Sylvia Lake. The Winnipeg River is expected to crest in early June. Water levels remain high throughout Whiteshell Provincial Park. Caddy, Falcon, West Hawk, Star, and Brereton are reporting a slight decrease in levels today compared to yesterday. Jessica, White, and Betula Lakes all reported a small increase today from yesterday. Crescent Beach seawall at West Hawk is barricaded and closed. Please pay attention to signage and do not cross barricades or flagging tape. The travel lane has been moved away from the wall and is narrow in spots, please travel slowly and pay attention to onsite signage. Cottages in the Crescent Beach, High Rock, McKenzie Beach, and Hunt Lake subdivisions should be aware of the potential for a re-route in this area in the event that damage to the boardwalk and seawall continues. Manitoba Parks staff are working in conjunction with staff from the department of Manitoba, Transportation and Infrastructure to monitor lake levels and adjust control structures where possible. A large sandbagging machine is in operation making prefilled sandbags for distribution at the Otter Falls Ball Diamond. Please be careful when attending this location, expect a staff person to be directing traffic, and that you may have to wait for large equipment to clear. Sandbag production will be ongoing from 9am to 7pm daily weather permitting. Pre-filled sandbags are being moved to sand and sandbag filling stations below as supply allows. In the past three days we have made approximately 30,000 sandbags for distribution. Sandbags for filling and sand are available for cottage owners at: the 8 Foot Falls Road in Pointe du Bois, the Otter Falls Ball Diamond, across from Nutimik Maintenance Yard, the Betula Ball Diamond, Jessica Lake at the garbage collection site, the parking lot across from Brereton Lake Resort, the West Hawk maintenance yard, and the causeway at Falcon Lake. There is also a limited amount of pre-filled sandbags available at the 8-Foot Falls location. PR307 near the Rennie River/ Heart Lake Boat Launch is now closed to all traffic. Wind and wave action have cause the water in this area to continue rising today. The roadway underneath the water is rough in spots. Manitoba Parks is not advising travel to cottages and trails in the Betula Lake area. PR 307 between Betula Lake and White Lake, and PR 312 near Caddy Lake is closed. Water is present on the highway at: PTH 44 near McGillvray Falls, PR 309 near Meditation Lake, PR 307 near Jessica Lake and PR 313 to Pointe du Bois. PR309 is very rough from the junction of PR 307 to Big Whiteshell, please use caution when travelling in this area. We encourage everyone to check manitoba511.ca before travelling (you can also call 511 anywhere in Manitoba to get updates by phone). Water is present on several block roads throughout the park. The following block roads should not be crossed in a smaller vehicle until the water recedes: High Rock Road at West Hawk (12” deep), Jessica Lake Block 5-6-7-8 (19” deep), White Lake Block 4 (16” deep), and Otter Falls Block 4 (6-14” deep). Several other block roads in the Otter Falls area and throughout the park have water on the roadways. Caution should be used when travelling through flooded areas. Work was done today on the 8 Foot Falls Black Road today to raise the level of the road and help to maintain access. The following boat launches are closed: 8 Foot Falls, West Hawk, Big Creek, Otter Falls, White Lake, Jessica Lake, Rennie River/ Heart Lake, Nutimik Lake Block 1, Nutimik Campground, Opapiskaw, South Shore Big Whiteshell, Toniata, Brereton Lake North Shore (Inverness Falls), and Falcon Beach Campground. All boat traffic should be cautious of debris and items submerged below the surface. Manitoba Park staff continue to actively monitor the floating bog at Caddy Lake, and address the bog as required on a proactive basis. The bog is not impacting the outflow of Caddy Lake. To minimize potential erosion caused by boat wakes, recreational motor boat restrictions are in place. Recreational motor boat traffic is prohibited from operating within 100 metres of the shoreline on: West Hawk, Falcon, Caddy, Star, Brereton, Jessica, White, Big Whiteshell, Betula, Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret and Eleanor Lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park. When exiting or approaching the shoreline, boats should move directly out from land and avoid creating a wake. The following hiking trails are closed: Pine Point Rapids, Forester’s Footsteps, Bannock Point, Alfred Hole, the Marsh Trail (between Falcon Lake Marina and Beach Campground), TransCanada Trail at Penniac Bay, and Hunt Lake. The Mantario Hiking Trail, Mantario Canoe Route and Caddy Lake Tunnels are closed. Extreme caution should be used with travelling the upstream portion of the Winnipeg River (Pointe du Bois to Lamprey Falls). Backcountry Campsites above Lamprey Falls are closed due to flooding. Campers should check the Manitoba Parks homepage for the status of campgrounds prior to coming to the park. Several campgrounds have full or partial closures. Otter Falls, Betula, and White Lake Campgrounds are closed. Individual site closures are in place at Nutimik Lake and Opapiskaw Campgrounds. Creekside loop of Old Nutimik Seasonal campground is now closed and campers have been asked to remove their units. If cottagers have any questions, concerns or urgent matters regarding the high water please contact Manitoba Parks at 204-340-6769 between 8am and 6pm daily. To report an emergency please contact the RCMP via 911 if located in the South Whiteshell, 204-348-7177 in the North Whiteshell, and 204-345-8685 in Pointe du Bois. Inquires regarding camping or normal operations should can be directed to the regular inquiry line at 1-800-214-6497. ... See MoreSee Less
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Lake levels report for Friday May 20th SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THOSE ON WINNIPEG RIVER - includes Forecast from Manitoba Hydro• No readings for Brereton• Only sporadic readings for Betula & Big Whiteshell• Rest as of May 19thSome reports this morning from cottagers that some lakes (Jessica, White area) starting to rise a bit again after stabilizing a bit ... See MoreSee Less
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Cindy Reynolds – “Crescent Beach - West Hawk Lake. The wall is starting to lean towards the lake and creating a gap between the wall and sidewalk. Wind, rain/snow and waves aren’t helping!” ... See MoreSee Less
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