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PRESIDENT’S REPORT FROM THE OCTOBER ECHO

Posted on: October 13, 2015  |  

The summer season of 2015 is now behind us, the poplars and birch are finally showing off their fall coats, and rumours of frost are in the air. A time for thanksgiving. The standoff between our dogs, Oscar and Gus, and the beavers is ongoing. Bark is their common denominator. Our rodential neighbours are intent on wintering under our dock; the dogs take great exception. Life goes on. This has been a summer of torrential downpours and lake levels are high. High time for Parks to start drawing down the water to prepare for next spring’s run-off.

Our summer of 2015 membership campaign has been a resounding success; our numbers are back up to the 2,000 range, and still climbing, as we near the start (November 1) of our 2016 membership campaign. Our members have also been very generous in supporting our legal and public relations reserve funds and we are about half-way to our target. For those of you who are still pondering your level of support, I urge you to contribute. There are no guarantees, but if our campaign has any measure of success, savings to individual cottagers will be many thousands of dollars over the next five years. That is the extent of the government’s overreach.

I also want to thank the many intrepid canvassers who, with the leadership of Gary Kennedy and  Deborah Seguin, have gone door to door to make the case for joining and supporting the Whiteshell Cottagers Association. Our objective is become a true, bottom up, membership-driven organization, and the canvassers, by making face to face visits, have established and strengthened the personal relationships that we want to be the source of energy for our association.

Under the leadership of Ronald Smith, we have also made excellent progress in the development of a coalition of Provincial Cottage Associations. We are especially delighted to welcome the Manitoba Association of Cottage Owner (MACO) to the fold, and are equally pleased that the South Whiteshell Chamber of Commerce are also supporters of our cause. The Government needs to know that most of the stakeholders in the Parks are deeply concerned about the negative consequences of their “New Parks Strategy” and are united in opposition to its full implementation.

How does this coalition translate to actual votes in a provincial election? We can’t be certain, but our research suggests that between 1 out of 10 or 12 families in the province are regular cottagers. Add on friends and extended family members who value their regular cottage visits and we arrive at an estimate of 50,000-100,000 individual voters who are inclined to vote to protect their cottage experience. Most of these voters are in the city and suburbs of Winnipeg, where, the pundits claim, the provincial election will be determined, and where there are many city NDP MLAs with thin majorities. It is the NDP who have used wedge politics to make the false case of “fat cat” cottagers against us. Next spring will be the time to remind the NDP that wedges can cut two ways.

Your organization is very much focused on the political timeline of the upcoming weeks and months; the federal election will dominate the political stage until the middle of October, but the scheduled fall sitting of the Provincial Legislature, and the upcoming spring Provincial Election are squarely in our sights. Many of our members have expressed the view that the current Parks Tax Plan of the government has the flavour of a finger in the wind…a testing of public reaction to a controversial tax grab. Whether this speculation is correct or not, this season provides all cottagers with the opportunity to demonstrate their strenuous opposition to the government’s scheme. The WCA will begin rolling out our public relations campaign, but this should not lull our membership into a feeling of comfort and safety. 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!

We have prepared informative brochures and back ground notes to help you craft your own messages. The bottom line is that when the government recognizes the depth and breadth of the public’s opposition to this tax grab, they will be much more likely to enter discussions with your association to find a fair middle ground for the development of our Parks.

To my mind, the most critical piece of information the government needs to digest is that even as we speak, many cottagers have either sold, or are considering the sale, of family cottages. These cottages have never been viewed as “financial assets” and there is no reveling in these sales as windfalls. Instead there is anger and resentment against a government that is forcing modest income cottagers to relinquish their cottages which are full of memories and dreams. I have written this before, but I repeat; I cannot fathom the thinking of an NDP government, that for a small increase in revenue, is prepared to sacrifice the deep interests of the very people they are committed to support, that is the modest income Manitoban. And make no mistake, when it comes to income levels, cottagers are no different from ordinary Manitobans. Cottagers are simply ordinary Manitobans, many of them fixed income seniors, who have prioritized their expenditures and found ways by dint of hard work and sweat equity to build and enjoy their cabins by a lake, and to pass this experience down to the next generation; to many this defines living the Canadian dream.

The spectacular ads for the Health Sciences Centre Dream Cottage at West Hawk Lake make this same point clearly. Manitobans are lining up by the thousands to take a flutter on this dream, and I can think of no better cause for a lottery. (Disclosure: for many years I worked at the Health Sciences Center, and I am a big supporter of that institution and their research activities). But I can’t help but point out an ironic aspect of this offering. The lucky winner of the cottage will also be provided with $10,000 in cash, presumably for minor improvement. But they should know, when they make their decision to accept the cottage or take the money and run, that every year that they “live the dream” there will be a substantial tax bill that will need to be paid out of pocket. The combined service and rental tax for a lakeside road-access cottage at West Hawk is nearly $8,000. That amount is currently discounted by the Ministry, but as current legislation stands, it rises inexorably to that $8,000 number. And which average Manitoban, with an income of $47,000 can afford that kind of tax? So the cottage will be sold to someone who can afford that kind of hit, and the government can chalk up another victory in their drive to force ordinary Manitobans out of the Parks, and turn them into playgrounds reserved for the rich.

Please reflect on this outcome of the NDP tax strategy for the Provincial Parks; but don’t stop there. Go visit your MLA, encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same. Write some letters, make your views known, and MAKE SOME NOISE!

By Daniel Klass, WCA President

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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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