Manitoba Parks has shared the following update today:
A local state of emergency has been declared for Whiteshell Provincial Park on May 20, 2022 due to rising river and lake levels within the park. All developed areas at Betula Lake were closed on May 21, 2022. This closure area will be expanded on May 24 at 5pm to include Sylvia Lake, Otter Falls, Barrier Bay and Nutimik Lake areas. No person should reside or enter into the closed area. Please visit the Manitoba Parks Website https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/ to see a map of the closure.
Water continues to rise 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. The Winnipeg River is expected to crest in early June. Water levels are projected to be as much as 2 feet above the May 21 water level. Rising water levels and rapidly evolving conditions are posing a significant risk to public safety.
Timelines for the expanded order:
Tuesday, May 24 at noon: Manitoba Parks will conclude the sand bagging operation at Otter Falls.
Tuesday, May 24 at 5 p.m.: The director of parks will implement the expanded closure area requiring all residents and park users to evacuate the expanded closure area by this time. This will apply 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 Parks will be contacting all permanent residents in the expanded closure area starting Tuesday afternoon to collect information and register people with emergency services. If someone would like to register prior to Tuesday as they are leaving early please call the parks line at 204-340-6769 and leave a message asking to be called back so you can register early.
As part of the expanded order, Manitoba Parks is to also close nightly and seasonal camping at Dorothy Lake, Opapiskaw, and Nutimik Lake campgrounds effective Monday, May 23 at 3p.m. The nightly campground at Big Whiteshell Lake south shore is will also close at this time. Additionally, all backcountry camping within the park is now also closed.
Water levels remain high throughout Whiteshell Provincial Park. Falcon, West Hawk, Star, Caddy, and Brereton are reporting a slight decrease or remaining stable over the last two days. Jessica, and White Lakes all reported a small increase today from yesterday. 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.
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.
A large sandbagging machine is in operation making prefilled sandbags for distribution at the Otter Falls Ball Diamond. Please be patient when attending this location, you may have to wait for large equipment to clear. Sandbag production will be ongoing from 9am to 7pm daily weather permitting. Sandbag operations will continue until Tuesday, May 24 at 12pm.
Sandbags for filling and sand are available for cottage owners at: the 8 Foot Falls Road in Pointe du Bois, the Otter Falls Ball Diamond, across from Nutimik Maintenance Yard, 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 is also a limited amount of pre-filled sandbags available at the 8-Foot Falls location, the Nutimik Water Treatment Plant, and Pinewood Lodge.
PR 307 near the Rennie River/ Heart Lake Boat Launch south 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. Water may be present on the highway at: PTH 44 near McGillvray Fall and PR 307 near Jessica Lake depending on wind direction. We encourage everyone to check manitoba511.ca before travelling (you can also call 511 anywhere in Manitoba to get updates by phone).
Water is present on several block roads throughout the park. The following block roads should not be crossed in a smaller vehicle until the water recedes: High Rock Road at West Hawk, Jessica Lake Block 5-6-7-8, White Lake Block 4, Caddy Lake Block 5, and Otter Falls Block 4. Several block roads in the Otter Falls area and throughout the park have water on the roadways. Caution should be used when travelling through flooded areas.
The following boat launches are closed: 8 Foot Falls, West Hawk, Big Creek, Otter Falls, White Lake, Jessica Lake, Rennie River/ Heart Lake, Nutimik Lake Block 1, Nutimik Campground, Opapiskaw, South Shore Big Whiteshell, Toniata, Brereton Lake North Shore (Inverness Falls), and Falcon Beach Campground. All boat traffic should be cautious of debris and items submerged below the surface.
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 and Eleanor Lakes 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: Pine Point Rapids, Forester’s Footsteps, Bannock Point, Alfred Hole, the Marsh Trail (between Falcon Lake Marina and Beach Campground), TransCanada Trail at Penniac Bay, and Hunt Lake. The Mantario Hiking Trail, Mantario Canoe Route and Caddy Lake Tunnels are closed. Extreme caution should be used with travelling the upstream portion of the Winnipeg River (Pointe du Bois to Lamprey Falls). 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. Otter Falls, Betula, Opapiskaw, Nutimik Lake, Dorothy Lake and White Lake Campgrounds are closed. 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: https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/index.html for a list of other closures.
- Manitoba Hydro Water Flow New Release: https://www.hydro.mb.ca/articles/2022/05/manitoba_hydro_advises_extreme_caution_on_waterways/