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Responding to Cottagers’ Questions

Posted on: November 23, 2014  |  

We are experiencing a brisk response to our Email-Blast for membership renewal. One positive result is a huge increase in the number of members who are discovering our rejuvenated website at www.whiteshellcottagers.com. Large numbers of cottagers are registering on the site and renewing their memberships there as well!

This is a very good result in itself, since up to now, the only ways we could contact our membership were via the Echo and by Canada Post mailings. The Website and our membership email list, now represent important new avenues for us to keep in touch with our members, and for members to keep in touch with us.

On exactly that point, I want to update cottagers on some of the feedback we are getting from members with respect to our campaign for membership renewals.

First and foremost, almost all of the messages are positive, reassuring us of ongoing support and encouragement from the vast majority of members.

But we acknowledge a few members who have responded to our campaign with some frustration. Let me air some of their views, and try to answer them forthrightly.

One member accused us of behaving just like the government by raising fees without justification. To that member I answer that there is a world of difference on a number of counts. First and foremost, it is hard to equate a one-time increase of $10 per year in our dues to the accelerating increases of hundreds of dollars each year for 10 consecutive years that the government has arbitrarily announced. Second, we are an open, volunteer organization, and the decision to increase fees was made openly by our Executive and Directors. While the government will be spending our service and lease fees without consultation for many purposes over which we have no control or interest, the Cottagers Association has clear objectives in mind to improve our effectiveness, broaden our communication with our members and strengthen our position with government and the public. Our very ability to publish this response on our Website speaks volumes about our new capacity to respond to our members. Strengthening our organization comes with a small price tag all cottagers should be willing to support. Our new membership fee seems a small price to invest in a vigorous campaign to rein in the Government’s extravagant ambitions to pick our collective pockets. There is no guarantee of success, but is there any of our membership who thinks that we shouldn’t try?

One cottager asked why we aren’t just using our reserve fund to cover our everyday expenses? We acknowledge that we do have a reserve fund devoted to the very expensive legal and public relations tasks we are engaging in. However, we don’t want to dig into the reserve, and risk hampering these other critical priorities, just to cover the regular operating costs of our organization. The small increase in WCA annual fees targets our everyday expenditures. We need to be able to answer your phone calls and emails, send out updates on our committee activities, recruit members for important tasks, maintain liaison with other cottagers in Manitoba, keep our website updated, publish and mail the Echo, improve the public image of our organization etc. etc., In other words we need to focus on tasks designed to ensure we are an organization prepared to defend the interests of cottagers in a difficult environment.

Another cottage owner asked why we haven’t already taken action against the government, implying that we have been doing nothing in the past couple of years to address cottager concerns. Let me assure all cottagers that we have not been foot dragging. We have been laying our plans to implement a multipronged approach to meet the government’s challenge head on. We have been working diligently with our lawyer preparing our case against both the service fees and the increasing lease rates. On these grounds we have a strong case, but our best advice has been that our legal position will be strengthened if we also address public and government relations issues before we launch a lawsuit. So we have hired a public relations consultant, and are working on the production and delivery of a strong message to the public and media about who we are and what we want from the government. We have orchestrated a petition that clearly states our case that will be presented to the Legislature as part of our campaign. Also underway is a political action program to make our case directly to legislative members, so that word of our demands for fair and transparent policy will filter up via caucus and cabinet to government decision makers. And we have made contact with other Cottage Associations in the Province, all of whom are being victimized by the government. They have told us that when we go to court, they will be at our side.

So we appreciate the concern that we have been slow off the mark. Up to now, our external communication has been sparse, for which we apologize. But our approach is better described as being strategic, keeping our powder dry, and waiting to strike when conditions are optimal. We are also being prudent with our members money; a lawsuit may cost more than $100,000! We have already spent a large sum in preparing our case, and are nearing a point of readiness.

That having been said, the current government uncertainty opens up many opportunities for our message to gain attention. So please be patient and stay tuned on that front. We will need volunteers for some of our political action steps and we hope that many of you will be prepared to step up.

I urge all members to take a positive view of our activities and be optimistic about the chance our message will be heard.

Keep up your memberships, register on our Website, encourage your neighbors and friends to join us, including the negative nannies, and rather than grumbling in the background, step forward to help fight these unfair fees and rates!

Our message is simple:

Cottagers are ordinary Manitobans.

We are prepared to pay our fair share of Parks expenditures.

We are prepared to pay reasonable rent for cottage lots. But we will only do so when these costs are apportioned and the rents determined fairly and openly, as required by the Parks Act.

We will be pleased to take our place with government and other stakeholders to establish a sustainable funding formula that respects the needs of the Park and the interests of cottagers and all stakeholders

We simply want the government to be accountable.

We insist on our democratic right to have a say in the expenditure of our money.

 

Daniel Klass, President, WCA.

November 23, 2014

 

One response to “Responding to Cottagers’ Questions”

  1. Jim Gray says:

    Dan: Just read your commentary of November 23 . To any cottagers that seem to blame the association for dragging their feet, I would tell them that from where I sit , the past 10-12 months under your leadership have progressed at warp speed compared to the previous 2-5 years that I have been a member. I like the manner in which you operate, and I like the manner in which you insure the messages get out.
    Unfortunately, I am not in a position where I can operate as a Director, but feel free at any time to ask for help. If I can give it, I will be glad to do so.

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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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