Posted on: February 18, 2015 | General News
I want to begin this report with a tribute to a friend and cottager who tragically died of cancer a few short weeks ago. Warren Froese was a fine orthopedic surgeon, a humanitarian and family man of great character. He loved the Whiteshell Park, and in his last days amazingly found time and energy to defend the fragile nature around him from the ill-advised wastewater treatment project at Brereton Lake. His report in the Echo of August 2014, two short months before his death, with its call to arms to all Whiteshell Cottagers, is a fitting tribute to this fine man. We extend our deepest sympathy to Warren’s family and commit to carrying his banner of good works forward. Warren urged us all to follow his lead and be involved with the Cottager’s Association to protect the Whiteshell.
Join the WCA
Despite all of the excitement over the Ministry’s high handed and arbitrary management in the Park, we have been underwhelmed by cottagers’ willingness to join the organization and support our campaign. While we are encouraged to hear supporting comments from many cottagers and friends … ”keep up the good work, we really appreciate what your association is doing for us,” “thanks for stating the case for cottagers,” etc., etc. But the hard metric of paid up memberships reveal more of a story of apathy. Is this a sign of the boiled frog syndro
me that I described in the last Echo? I hope not.
The WCA has been working hard to prepare a counterattack against the government’s false labelling of our membership which they then used as background to imposing unfair levels of fees and taxes on us. All of our preparation requires your support, both to build a strong, well-supported organization and to carry our messages to the public and the government. Evidence of these activities is found in our newly revitalized web site, our Whiteshell-wide petition (now with over 4,000 signatures!), our preparation of a legal response to the government’s strategy, and the preparation of both public and government relations projects to make certain that our story will be heard when and where it counts. Will our efforts be successful? Only time can tell, but we certainly are going to try our best.
Although we are a volunteer organization, we are encountering significant and growing expenses to defend our common interests. In this issue, and in a recent email blast, we are announcing our annual membership drive. Though we are raising our annual fee to $35 per cottage, we are offering a one time $10 discount to all renewals and to new members who sign up by January 1, 2015. Our aim is transparent; we need more members and we want to encourage all cottagers to join. Our usual roster is about 2,000 members out of the, approximately, 3,000 cottages in the North and South Whiteshell. Our goal is to achieve at least a 90 per cent membership level. The more members we have, the more vigorous an association we can be. The stronger we are as an association, the more likely we are to bring some reason to the plans of Manitoba Conservation to jack up our fees and lease rates. I urge you to take a moment to review the last invoice you received from parks. Focus on the rates government is expecting you to pay in a few short years’ time and imagine the bite this will take out of your personal budget. If you are unconcerned, so be it. But if you object to what the government is planning, reflect on how you can help your association in the months and years ahead. At a minimum, keep your own membership active. Make an effort to ensure that your neighbours at the lake know about the Cottagers Association and encourage them to join us. And even better, contact your Lake Director (see their contact information on page seven in this is¬sue of the Echo) to find out how you can work with us in the future. We are not just a one-trick pony. In addition to working on the issues of fair fees and lease rates, the Association has ongoing projects designed to communicate effectively with our members and cottager
s throughout the province, and to better manage the Whiteshell for the benefit of stakeholders. We have been advised that the current political turmoil in government provides us an opportunity to present our case to politicians of all stripes who will be listening more attentively than usual to the concerns of their constituents. We are planning to make sure that the voices of cottagers will be clearly heard in meetings with members of the legislative assembly. We would welcome your joining us in these meetings. Finally, as we approach our next Annual General Meeting (yes, spring is just around the corner!) we urge you to think about members who will be willing to work as lake directors in the future. We have welcomed the following new directors this year: Alan Roberts, Neil McMillan, Kerry Davies, Jacques Nault, Brenda Trach and Deborah Seguin. We also say farewell to directors who have served us faithfully in the past and who are stepping down, including Joan Murash (Nutimik), John Collo (Betula) and Gloria Debaets (Otter Falls). We are very grateful for the many services these volunteer directors have provided