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STOP BULLYING COTTAGERS WITH UNFAIR TAXATION! …a message from WCA President

Posted on: April 10, 2015  |  

Open Letter to the Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship from the Whiteshell Cottagers Association Inc.

March 27, 2015.

Dear Minister Mackintosh,

Beginning early in March, cottagers in Manitoba’s Provincial Parks began receiving their annual invoices for park district service fees and ground rent for their leased properties. Since then, the Whiteshell Cottager’s Association has been inundated with angry messages from cottagers, berating your Ministry and asking what defense our association can provide against these bills, which are seen by our membership as predatory.

Mr. Minister, we knew what was coming, and we have been working hard and diligently with your staff in the Parks Branch, hoping to find some common ground that might have allowed for an agreeable solution to what we see as disproportionately large and improperly implemented fee and rental increases.

We were under the impression that progress was being made, and that a sustainable compromise agreement could be reached. Apparently however, you rejected this agreement, and in the end, showed no willingness to compromise and enter into a new and invigorated partnership with your major stakeholders in the Parks; i.e. cottagers.

Yet your message on the Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Web Site proclaims your dedication to cooperation with stakeholders and to providing affordable access to the Manitoba Parks System.

“Our website outlines how we manage and protect the province’s environment… working cooperatively with…. stakeholders…. providing affordable recreational opportunities. Our parks are among the most affordable in the country.” (www.gov.mb.ca/cws/minister)

Our position on the financial aspects of your new “Building the Parks Strategy” is simple. We have been consistent in our agreement to pay our fair share of park district service fees; but we have also insisted that you follow your own rules (the Parks Act) in their implementation. Your department’s failure to keep your fees up to date, as you claim, does not give you the right to increase these fees without the consultation required by the Parks Act. Despite our strenuous effort to find common ground on this issue, your Ministry remains adamant; no compromises, no discussion, no transparency. You are trying to raise these fees with the same lack of due process and consideration for Manitoba citizens that your government showed with the increase in the PST. Who will be next? You keep repeating your mantra; “cottagers will only pay service fees for services that they consume”. Yet when faced with evidence to the contrary from your own data, your answer is silence. For example, you have never explained why cottagers are paying for developments like sewage lagoons, campground Wi-Fi, water treatment facilities which are not intended for their use, and for some cases, which cottagers are not even allowed to use!

We are puzzled and outraged by your lack of concern for ordinary Manitobans in your decision to raise the ground rents for cottagers to unrealistic and unsustainable levels. By what reasonable standard should cottagers be facing what amounts to a $7500 annual tax for 3 months of access to a cottage with virtually no services? The failure of your department, over the years, to keep its land assessments current, provides no excuse to punish cottagers with a flawed assessment scheme and rent increases that are illegal and outlandish by your own Rentalsman’s standards. We have done our own homework and presented your ministry with a fair-minded proposal that accepts the raises that have already been imposed, but asks for these rates to be held in place until a long-term solution can be worked out in partnership. Your reaction to this opportunity “to work cooperatively with stakeholders to find an affordable solution” was to reject it out of hand.

Mr. Minister, you have severely misjudged the character of Manitoba’s cottagers. We are ordinary citizens from all walks of life, teachers, tradesmen, hydro fieldworkers, painters, union members, civil servants; a great many of us are senior or retired citizens on fixed incomes. We regret that while your government attempts to curry the favour of seniors with the school tax rebate, you selectively single out those seniors who happen to be cottagers in provincial parks, and threaten them with the loss of their beloved family cottages.

Your effort to squeeze more tax revenue from “the likes of the Nygaards” of the province (your very words, Mr. Minister) is insulting and frightening to low to modest income cottagers whose dream of affordable cottaging is being shattered by taxes and fees as high as $7500 per year! Cottagers are not fooled by the offer of a temporary cap, in part because the terms of this cap keep changing, and especially since you refuse to remove the language of the regulations that prescribe these high rates. And don’t forget those icons of the NDP who encouraged the dream of cottagers in the first place. Perhaps you should consult with former premier Gary Doer, to help you understand what family cottaging means to ordinary Manitobans. (As described by a respected member of your own party, (WFP, 3/17/2015) “Doer himself liked to talk about a Manitoba where everyone could own a home and a cottage. The message wasn’t “tax the rich,” it was “grow the middle class.” And they did”.)

We think the NDP should be protecting the dreams of ordinary Manitobans, not squashing them.

Finally, Mr. Minister, we are very much aware of how the relationship between Parks and Cottagers throughout the province has suffered because of past, festering disputes. We have canvassed all of the cottage owner associations in the Provincial Parks, and we are confident that they will march arm in arm with us. Our initial hope was to find common ground with you through discussion and negotiation, and to begin a new chapter of partnership for Parks Management and Parks stakeholders through the province. You do the talk about partnership, yet your unwillingness to “walk the walk” by turning your back on negotiation and compromise and sticking to a rigid and misguided approach, leaves cottagers no option but to escalate the dispute. We regret this escalation, but you have provided us with no other choice. In the hope of rekindling the spirit of fairness, we remain open to restarting these critical negotiations with your department, but the ball is in your court. I look forward to your reply in this very urgent matter.

Sincerely,

 

Daniel Klass

President,

Whiteshell Cottagers Association Inc

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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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