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Posted on: November 23, 2015  |  

Following is a letter sent by a concerned Whiteshell cottager to her MLA.

Demonstrate your strenuous opposition to the government’s “New Parks Strategy” scheme.  We urge you all to get engaged in the political process by communicating directly with your own MLA and the caucuses of the political parties.  Write letters, pay visits, get on social media and generally speaking MAKE NOISE!

Honorable K. Irvin-Ross
357 Legislative Building
450 Broadway
Winnipeg, MB
R3C 0V8

Dear Honorable Kerri Irvin-Ross:

I am writing to express my concern and anger at the increases in Cottage Lots lease fees, and Service fees in Provincial Parks. My family has owned a cottage at Brereton Lake in the Whiteshell since 1972. My parents bought a one room cottage with no water or plumbing for $5000. Over the years they added onto it, put in a water supply and plumbing as well as beautifying the property. It is now about 1400 square feet, but the literal heart of it is that one room that was the original cottage. They did a lot of the work themselves, with the help of friends and family, but they also employed tradespeople in this rural area, thereby contributing to the local economy.

Crown Lands have valued the property at $120, 000, and this past year the occupancy fees were $1796. I am not sure how Crown Lands arrive at the figure of $120,000. Service Fees are supposed to reflect the actual costs of providing services in the Parks, but since the Parks Branch will not open the books to cottagers, who knows?

My City of Winnipeg property Portioned Value is $120,600 (this includes both house and property). On that, I pay Municipal taxes of $1612.66, with School Taxes additional. For that cost, I have water directly to my house, and sewage, recycling and garbage directly taken away. I have police protection, fire protection, street lights, roads that are maintained, access to libraries, health and recreation facilities.

For the Service fee in the Whiteshell Park, I get very little. For water, we pump from the lake and pick up drinking water at a pump. We haul garbage and recycling to a site, or to a transfer station 25 km away. We pay to have the septic tank emptied. There is no fire protection, the RCMP are in Whitemouth or Pinawa, at least 70 km away. There are no street lights, libraries or recreation facilities. Roads are abysmal; the speed limit on the service road in my area is 30Kph. If you went that fast you would damage your vehicle; I normally drive at 10 or 15 kph. There are no health services; an ambulance would have to come from over 70 km away.

Occupancy fees were $875 in 2012; last year they were $1795 and by 2023 will be close to $6500. For a place I use 4 months of the year, this is absolute nonsense. I cannot afford this and will soon have to sell the family cottage that has been part of our live for over 40 years. My husband and I are both seniors, on fixed incomes. I only wish my pension income would increase as much as these fees have!

What I have the most difficulty understanding is how an NDP government, who traditionally has been for the ‘common person’ or the ‘little guy’, can do this. Does it not go against the fundamental beliefs of a New Democratic Party?
The end result of these increases is that only the wealthy, the ones who can afford $6500 annually for a seasonal cottage, will be able to be cottagers. Is this what you really intended?

Yours truly,

Sharon Philp
857 Oakenwald Ave.
Winnipeg, Mb
R3T 1M9

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