For 2012 Manitoba Conservation is reinstating provincial park Vehicle Entry fees which have been suspended for the past 3 years. Historically, each cottage property in the parks was allocated one Vehicle Entry Permit at no charge as the fee was considered to be included in the Service Fees that we pay. After the WCA initiated legal action due to the provincial government’s failure to comply wth Section 18 of the Provincial Parks Act, the government halted this practice. Manitoba Conservation has yet to comply with the Act whereby annual budget consultation is required with respect to Park District Service Fees. The Whiteshell Cottagers Association regards the additional charge to cottagers for Vehicle Entry Permits as a change to the cost of services and a breach of Section 18 and will continue to address this issue.
Letter from Past President Werner Toews to Manitoba Conservation:
The Honourable Stan Struthers
Minister, Manitoba Conservation
330-450 Broadway Ave.
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
January 15, 2009
Dear Mr. Struthers,
Re: Motor Vehicle Permits for Whiteshell Park Cottagers
Thank you for your letter dated October 31, 2008. However we still vehemently disagree with your decision to take away the “complementary” Motor Vehicle Park Pass that was afforded to cottagers for the last 30 years. We are seeking a reversal of this decision and we will provide you with the reasons.
As stated in your letter, the motor vehicle permit revenues assist Manitoba Conservation in providing “ basic park services and to undertake enhancement and upgrading projects.”
Some of those basic park services are Road Maintenance and Garbage disposal. In a 2002/2003 Park District Service Fee informational invoice it was estimated that the cost of road maintenance for a cottager in the West Hawk Lake area was approximately $153.15. That same cottager was charged a total of $142.54 for garbage collection and disposal services.
I will suggest that the garbage collection and disposal service and road maintenance afforded to day users is greatly subsidised by cottagers who pay much more than the $28.00 motor vehicle permit fee to “visit” the park.
For an example, I will draw your attention to a paragraph from the 1997 report, Whiteshell Provincial Park recycling Review, prepared by Cochrane Environmental Consultants Inc. for the Department of Natural Resources.
2.3.5. Other Users Groups
“ Another park user group that contributes to the solid waste stream is the day user who visits the park in order to picnic, swim, hike, horseback ride or participates in other recreational activities.”
“The approximate tonnage of waste materials from day users was estimated by Natural Resource staff familiar with the waste operations in their districts as follows:
30 tonnes for Falcon District: 34 tonnes for West Hawk District: 25 tonnes for Rennie District: and 41 tonnes for Seven Sisters District”
I will further suggest that these figures reflect a significant amount of garbage generated by day users who only pay $28.00 per year for the use of the park services.
Another inequity that I would like to bring to your attention are cottagers at Ingolf Ontario who are exempt from having to purchase a motor vehicle permit.
The Cochrane report of 1997 further states:
“ Cottagers from the community of Ingolf, Ontario, may also contribute to the solid waste stream of the West Hawk District. There are approximately 120 cottages in Ingolf. The Ingolf population in both summer and winter was determined in the same manner as that for Whiteshell cottagers. It was determined that there are about 32,000 person days of cottage use at Ingolf during the summer and 4,480 during the winter.”
It is clear that these cottagers use the roads and garbage services in the Whiteshell Park free of any costs.
Another example of this inequitable system is the following statement found on the Falcon\West Hawk Chamber of Commerce website:
“ Park Entrance Passes are not required”
“ If you are just coming into the park for services such as; gas, shopping, meals or other services. Just advise the park entrance staff that you are entering the park for highway services, and they will wave you through the gate.”
The WCA Inc. would like to know if this statement reflects the policy of Manitoba Conservation.
Given the fact the Manitoba Conservation has also decided to provide “free weekends” to day users and overnight campers the WCA Inc. reiterates that this is not a “fair and equitable system.”
The current administration of Manitoba Conservation has taken away a benefit from cottagers that was linked to land rent and service fees, by previous governments, for the last 30 years. We ask that you reinstate the policy of providing a motor vehicle permit, at no cost, to all cottagers in Manitoba Provincial Parks.
We look forward to your response.
Whiteshell Cottagers Association Inc.