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President’s Report from the August Echo

Posted on: September 28, 2015  |  

How many cottagers have taken stock of their finances in light of the massive increases in taxes and fees the government is demanding to maintain their cottages, and are deciding to bail out? We have used the Statistics Canada database to calculate income figures for Whiteshell Cottagers based on standard data techniques. It turns out that the median household income of members of the Whiteshell Cottagers Association is not much different from median household incomes of the Manitoba population as a whole! No wonder that the idea of selling becomes an unfortunate necessity when the new occupancy taxes for the Whiteshell will consume up to $7,500 annually of that income!

(Anyone who depends upon an Old Age Pension will recognize that number.) What can the provincial government possibly be thinking when they claim that cottagers are all the likes of Peter Nygård? How can Premier Selinger look at himself in the mirror every morning knowing that his policy for cottagers is forcing the very people he is committed to defend, to abandon their cottages along with decades of family memories?

The response of our membership to this depressing information is amazingly varied. Some, of course, are upset and concerned, and we are cheered by the many offers of help for our campaigns. On the other hand, we still are faced with what one of our directors calls the “deer in the headlights” response. In effect, the sneak attack by the government, with no prior notice or consultation, and with its confusing array of “discounts” and “caps” and “pleading for relief until death,” has paralyzed many cottagers. We still hear comments like, “well our fees went way up last year, but surely that will be the end of it”! Let me assure you all, that the plan of the government is clear; combined service and lease fees (both of which are taxes, plain and simple) will have increased by at least 750 per cent from the 2012 baseline, which represents about $7,500 per year by 2022. Nothing this government has said suggests a retreat from that outrageous tax grab.

We hear occasionally from cottagers that they are worried that the WCA is doing little or nothing in the face of this challenge.

Let me assure you of the contrary. The Executive and Directors have been working tirelessly to bring the Government to a more reasonable position, and to reinforce the longstanding tradition of both parties, and the government’s promise of “affordable cottaging.”

What concrete steps have we taken?

First, we have strengthened our organization with a new administrative officer, Ken Sommer, himself a cottager, who is ensuring a strong and responsive “face” for the organization.

Second, we are engaged in a vigorous campaign to make sure that all cottagers in the Whiteshell join us to fight the government on this critical issue.

Under the direction of Gary Kennedy and Deborah Seguin, White Lake Directors, our membership committee is spearheading a district-by-district, lake-by-lake and block-by-block effort to meet face-to-face with cottagers, to be sure they are aware of the stakes, to make sure they are members of the WCA and contributors to our campaign.

It is shocking that a substantial number of cottage owners have not yet joined the WCA this year. Who else do these cottagers think will be fighting for their interests?

Third, under the leadership of our President Elect, Ronald Smith, we have worked to develop a province-wide voice for cottagers. The Whiteshell region comprises only about 50 per cent of all provincial park cottagers, so we have engaged with the cottager associations in other parks in the province, and are happy to report that a significant and growing number of these associations are committing to work with us in a common cause. And it won’t just be the Provincial Parks Cottagers that government will have to contend with. Other cottager groups are joining us, including the Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners (an umbrella group representing cottagers in municipalities as well as in Parks, see www.macoman.com) and merchants in parks, such as the Whiteshell Chamber of Commerce (falconwesthawkchamber.com). This is a powerful coalition of cottagers and parks stakeholders that will fight the taxation policies of the NDP that single out cottage owners as scapegoats for the current provincial budget morass. We hope to put an end to the NDP government strategy of “divide and conquer” in its dealings with Parks Stakeholders.

A provincial election is just around the corner (Spring 2016), and when the government starts polling for support in contentious Winnipeg ridings, they will quickly become aware of a sizeable and solid block of voters who will not be voting NDP because of their eagerness to throw provincial cottagers under the political bus.

Fourth, our preparations for this upcoming political campaign includes working with a strategic communication consultant (chesscommunications.com) who is providing us with professional advice to make sure our message is clear and unequivocal, and that it is heard where it will count. Watch for this public campaign!

Fifth and last, we continue to prepare our legal brief with our team at Fillmore Riley (www.fillmoreriley.com). We are documenting the innumerable examples of the Ministry of Conservation and Water Stewardship’s failure to live up to the legal standard of the very statute they are obliged to administer, The Parks Act and its Regulations. Beginning with the government’s failure to adhere to the settlement agreements of 2006, including its failure to provide information and consult as required with stakeholders in the Parks, its failure to assure the fair administration of service fees that are to benefit cottagers and other stakeholders, through to its inadequate management of lease arrangements for cottagers, there is a litany of transgressions of the Ministry for which we intend to hold them to account.

To fully implement this five-part strategic plan, we are heavily dependent upon the active support of our membership.

We want all cottagers to make sure that they are fully registered members of the WCA. We want you all to be regular visitors to our much-improved website (www.whiteshellcottagers.com), so that you can be up-to-date on our issues. We want you all to make your concerns heard by writing directly to the Minister, or by participating in written or digital media conversations.

We also need your direct help by volunteering for a number of tasks that we are currently undertaking; we need canvassers to complete our door to door campaign for members, we need volunteers to participate, this fall, in our political campaign to visit the constituency offices of all Winnipeg MLAs and make our case to our elected officials, and we particularly need the help of cottagers who can represent us in various avenues of social media.

We also need your financial support to help our messages reach their targets in the broadcast, print and digital media. We can’t compete with the government in the art of spending public money for political purposes, but we can make sure that the people of Manitoba have a clear picture of the depths to which this government has gone to unfairly pick the pockets of cottagers throughout the province. A combined legal media campaign will greatly advance our cause, but will cost a lot of money!

I want finally to point out that we have provided the government with many opportunities to find common ground. All have been spurned; the latest insult being the failure of Minister Nevakshonoff to even acknowledge a formal request from WCA to meet and have an open discussion of our concerns.

A government that won’t even talk to its people, let alone listen to their concerns, is a government doomed to oblivion.

 

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Hello WCA, Here are the new items for today. - Manitoba Hydro released information this afternoon regarding the expected continued high water flows on the Winnipeg River (we have provided the link below and some of the key lake points). The Winnipeg River is expected to crest between June 5-10. Please see www.hydro.mb.ca/corporate/facilities/water_levels/ to view the forecast.- The shoreline adjacent to the Pointe du Bois subdivision has been included in the 100 metre from shore prohibition on recreational motor boat use. Whiteshell Provincial Park: May 27, 2022 A local state of emergency has been declared for Whiteshell Provincial Park on May 20, 2022 due to rising water levels within the park. Developed areas at Betula Lake were closed on May 21, 2022. This closure area was expanded (May 24) to include Sylvia Lake, Otter Falls, Dorothy Lake, Barrier Bay and Nutimik Lake areas. No person should reside or enter into the closed area. Please visit the Manitoba Parks Website www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/ to see a map of the closure. This applies to all cottage subdivisions, commercial areas, campgrounds, group use, day use, recreational and picnic areas, playgrounds, trails, and beaches with within the order area. During the closure no person should reside or enter into the closure area of the park. Manitoba Hydro released information this afternoon regarding the expected continued high water flows on the Winnipeg River. Water continues to rise significantly along the lakes that make up the Winnipeg River system (Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret, Eleanor, and Sylvia Lakes as well as Pointe du Bois) as water moves downstream from Lake of the Woods. Water levels rise quickly in these areas due to natural restrictions along the river. Please see www.hydro.mb.ca/corporate/facilities/water_levels/ to view the forecast. Manitoba Hydro is predicating an increase of water levels from the current high water over the next 10 to 14 days, as follows: • 6 inches upstream of Eight Foot Falls. • 10 inches in Nutimik Lake. • 9 inches in Dorothy Lake. • 11 inches in Margaret/Eleanor Lake. • 1 foot in Sylvia Lake. • 8 inches upstream of Silver Falls. The Winnipeg River is expected to crest between June 5-10. Rising water levels and rapidly evolving conditions pose a significant risk to public safety. Manitoba Parks continue to monitor safety and water levels inside the closure area, additional safety measures may be applied if required. Manitoba Parks has been contacting all permanent residents in the closure area. If you have not been contacted by Manitoba Parks staff to register, please call the parks line at 204-340-6769 and leave a message with your name, lot, block, subdivision, and ask to be added to the permanent residents list. You will then be called back to register. Water levels improvement are being seen in all areas south of the Winnipeg River. Falcon, West Hawk, Star, Caddy, Brereton, White, and Jessica Lakes are reporting a decrease today. One log was also inserted into the West Hawk Dam on May 26 to slow the downstream flow, this change will take a few days to positively impact Jessica and White Lake. 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. This includes monitoring structures for blockages. Crescent Beach seawall at West Hawk is barricaded and closed. Pay attention to signage, and barricades. The travel lane has been moved away from the wall and is narrow in spots, please travel slowly. Cottages in the Crescent Beach, High Rock, McKenzie Beach, and Hunt Lake subdivisions should be aware of the potential for a re-route in the event of further damage to the seawall. Sandbags for filling and sand are available for cottage owners at: the 8 Foot Falls Road in Pointe du Bois, 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 are a limited number of pre-filled bags at the Jessica Lake and Pointe du Bois depots. PR 307 from the west park entrance to the PR307/309 junction, and PR 312 near Caddy Lake is closed to all traffic. PR 309 near Meditation Lake is restricted to local traffic only. We encourage everyone to check manitoba511.ca before travelling. You can call 511 anywhere in Manitoba to get updates by phone. Water is present on several block roads throughout the park. White Lake Block 4 is closed to vehicle use. The following block roads should not be crossed in a smaller vehicle until the water recedes: High Rock Road at West Hawk, and Jessica Lake Block 5-6-7-8. Caution should be used when travelling through flooded areas. The following boat launches are closed in addition to those in the park closure area: 8 Foot Falls, Big Creek, White Lake, Jessica Lake, South Shore Big Whiteshell, and Toniata. West Hawk and Falcon Beach Campground Boat launches have been re-opened. Public can expect open launches to be without docks, high water is preventing repair and placement of docks throughout the park. Please use caution and courtesy when boating. All boat traffic should be cautious of debris and items submerged below the surface. Please be advised that you cannot visit the closed area of the park by boat. Access is not allowed to your cottage or recreational areas via the Winnipeg River. No landing in the closed area is allowed. Extreme caution should be used with travelling the upstream portion of the Winnipeg River (Pointe du Bois to Lamprey Falls). 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, Eleanor Lakes, and the shoreline adjacent to the Pointe du Bois subdivision 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 in addition to those in the park closure area: the Marsh Trail (between Falcon Lake Marina and Beach Campground), TransCanada Trail at Penniac Bay, and Hunt Lake. All backcountry campsites in Whiteshell Provincial park are closed due to flooding, high water conditions and frequently changing portage conditions. 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. All campground in the closure area will remain closed until this portion of the park reopens (Dorothy Lake, Opapiskaw, Nutimik Lake, and Otter Falls). In addition, White Lake Campground is closed (seasonal and nightly) and nightly camping is closed in Big Whiteshell Campground. Phone Numbers/ Websites:• Parks info line for water, flood and closures: 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. • Camping Information 1-888-482-2267 for the Parks Reservation Service. • Environment, Climate and Parks General inquiry line 1-800-214-6497. • Highway conditions: Manitoba511.ca • Manitoba Parks: manitobapark.com for a list of other closures.• Manitoba Hydro Water Flow New Release: www.hydro.mb.ca/articles/2022/05/manitoba_hydro_advises_extreme_caution_on_waterways/• DFA Information: www.gov.mb.ca/emo/dfa/residence.html, dfa@gov.mb.ca or by phone at 204-945-3050. ... See MoreSee Less
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Regular weekly Hydro report for Winnipeg River LakesNOTE: this is a 7 day forecast, the earlier one was 10-14 day - so the numbers are different ... See MoreSee Less
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Winnipeg River hydro report(Our regular Friday report expected in about an hour) ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted on Caddy lake page (Dennis Dyck) – “ Found floating on Caddy Lake; blue plastic barrel. Still has both bung caps installed, so likely used as a float support rather than a weight. A marathon canoe with a # 32 painted on it. A 5 gallon jerrycan If these items belong to you please pick them up at block 9, lot 25. Thanks ... See MoreSee Less
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Sheila Dancho – “I have lost two sections of stairs that look like these. Please post to your page. Thanks for your help. Contact info 2042663066 Sheila Dancho from The Nutimik Island” ... See MoreSee Less
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