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October 2016 WCA President’s Report

Posted on: October 3, 2016  |  

By Ronald Smith

Where has the summer gone? It doesn’t seem that long ago when forest fires were threatening West Hawk and Caddy Lake cottages and then torrential rains doused the Whiteshell Provincial Park with six inches of rain in six hours causing blown out culverts, road wash outs, stranded cottagers and flood levels on every South Whiteshell lake. Caddy Lake seemed to take the brunt of Mother Nature’s gift from the skies with its lake level dramatically increasing six feet and causing severe damage and destruction to many boat houses and cottages. This “once in fifty year” storm clearly identified and magnified the many flaws and shortcomings in the water flow management infrastructure within the Whiteshell Provincial Park watershed. To her credit and within days of its occurrence, our new Minister of Sustainable Development, Honourable Catherine Cox and her staff took the time to personally visit and review the extent of the flood damage. I must say that during my five year term as Whiteshell Cottagers Association Director, this was the first time I can recall a presiding Provincial Parks Minister taking the time to visit stakeholders in our Park.

Since the storm, your Whiteshell Cottagers Association Environment Committee chaired by Alan Roberts, has continuously and tirelessly consulted with the MIT Provincial Officials to both alleviate the currently dangerous high lake levels as we approach the necessary fall lake level draw down in preparation and anticipation of next spring’s run-off; and, to make urgent systemic change recommendations to alleviate and/or prevent future wild weather disasters. Damaging forest fires, high lake levels and many rainy weekends have certain made this past summer one that will be long remembered! Please read this accompanying document written by Alan Roberts (along with a few photos) where he not only professionally analyzes flaws in the present water management control for Falcon Lake and other Whiteshell Lakes flowing westward from West Hawk Lake but also proposes changes his Committee has determined necessary in the long term to maintain lake levels at the appropriate level for normal lake activities to take place. The absolute urgency and importance of the Lake Levels Sub-Committee and key Provincial Officials working cooperatively together to address water flow management in the Whiteshell Provincial Park cannot be overstated!

Over the summer I attended a few events in our Park. On Saturday, August 13th I attended the Annual Open House at the South East Whiteshell Firehall. This event is well organized, well attended and children-friendly event where the Firehall opens its doors to all stakeholders and guests…young and old! I was impressed with the wide range of fire and rescue equipment on display with demonstrations and other artifacts, photos and memorabilia posted upstairs in the Firehall. Bruce Morrison, Fire Chief and his outstanding team of volunteers includes not only the volunteer fire fighters but also fund raisers and other supporting cast who makes this a pre-eminent organization. Bruce has shared his organization’s best practices with the North Whiteshell District where Vice-President, Gary Kennedy, is a driving force with Provincial officials behind an initiative to set up a similar fire and rescue operation in our North Whiteshell area. In particular, Geoff Smith, Regional Field Supervisor has been a huge help in this initiative.

On Sunday, August 20th an inaugural Falcon Lake Show and Shine was held to raise money for the St. Amant Center. Micheal McCarron was the organizer along with his wife and Manny Damata. The show exhibited cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and big rigs and an exhibition of towing and extraction vehicles. Free beef on a bun along with a soft drink was available between Ski Nautique boats and other fancy watercraft on display in front of the Falcon Beach Shell Station. A few photos of the event are featured in this Echo.

On Sunday, August 21st, I was invited to represent WCA at a historic event along Highway 301 in the Red Pines forest area close to Faloma Beach. The grand opening of the South East Whiteshell Cemetery was very meaningful….the setting was awesome! We learned the difference between a graveyard (on Church property and designated for that church’s members) and a cemetery (off church property). Please see Sandra Fisette’s article in this Echo that shares the 15 year long journey by a very dedicated group of Whiteshell stakeholders. The Constituency MLA, Dennis Smook, along with Mike Gilbertson, Director of Parks and another Provincial official attended the opening. The WCA Board of Directors sincerely wishes Mike Gilbertson well in his departure from Manitoba to return to the Maritimes. Our Association will miss Mike Gilbertson – a gentleman we found to be both open minded and willing to listen and consider the plight of cottage owners where escalating fees were going to force them to sell their lake treasure and leave life-long family bonding experiences and memories behind.

I would like to thank all new and renewing 2016 Whiteshell Cottagers Association members who continue to actively support the activities your association is undertaking. Our overall numbers are up this year over last. If your neighbour is not a member, please encourage him/her to join our team. We feel proud that along with the support of our Coalition partners our efforts have resulted in signicant dollar savings both in 2016 where our former government froze lease fees for the year, and, now for 2017 and 2018 where our new government has frozen both lease and service fees pending the establishment of a new and financially fair agreement for both parties. We must not get complacent – the real journey is just now starting but we feel optomistic that a respectful partnership with our Provincial colleagues has begun and can be achieved.

I am very pleased to formally announce that the Strategic Alliance/Coalition initiative that your Whiteshell Cottagers Association has been pursuing for the past two+ years with the objective of forming a single unified voice for all Manitoba Provincial Park Cottage Owners has reached a historic milestone. On Monday, September 12th, the inaugural meeting of the new Alliance, known as the Manitoba Provincial Park Cabin Owners Association (MPPCOA) with its own new Constitution was held at the 1975 Corydon Avenue building library.

The new Organization consists of five Mb. Provincial Park COA’s as follows: 1) Duck Mountain Provincial Park; 2) Grindstone Provincial Park; 3) Hecla Historic Village; 4) Moose Lake Provincial Park; and; 5) Whiteshell Provincial Park. The new MPPCOA Board of Directors and Executive Committee are: President – Jack Elliot (Duck Mountain); Vice-President – Dean Amundson (Hecla Historic Village); Secretary – Nichola Wigle (Moose Lake); Treasurer – Ronald Smith (WCA); and, Director – Bob Johnston (Grindstone). A Committee was immediately set up under Chair, Daniel Klass (Past President – WCA) with the authority to establish a representative committee named the Negotiating Advisory Committee. It will consist of individuals with specific required skills/knowledge to achieve a fair financial arrangement based upon the Parks Act. We are looking at other provincial models of Parks Management, looking for an approach that is open, fair, accountable etc etc. and cost recovery based. The three agreed principles of partnership, transparency and fairness would be the center theme for all negotiations.

I agree to continue to recruit other Provincial Park COA which, if total inclusiveness was achieved, would be beneficial both to the Province and Cottage Owners when discussing matters of common concern. Ken Kennedy, President of the Duck Mountain COA has agreed to join me in this initiative.

It has been a busy summer from many perspectives. I hope the fall and its usual fashion show of colours brings many beautiful cottage days for you and your family as you think about closing up for another year. Please continue to check out the WCA website for news even during the winter months.

 

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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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Regular Hydro Report for Winnipeg River Lakes ... See MoreSee Less
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J Lynn Kath-Sopka – “West hawk lake right now” (Friday 2pm) ... 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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