A large group of cottage owners in the Whiteshell are fuming after the province informed them of plans to build an industrial storage site nearby.
The group, led by Doug Collicut, has already gathered more than 100 signatures on a petition against the new development.
“We don’t have a definition of what the commercial light industry storage sites would be used for, no idea. That’s part of the problem, we don’t have the information we need to make a proper choice,” says Collicut, who’s owned property at Star Lake for more than 20 years.
Residents of Star Lake received a letter from the provincial government last week, informing them that a “commercial light industrial development” is being planned just a short walk away from where cottagers like Shelli Cumbers have lived for decades.
“We’re angry about the way they’ve gone about it, by sending the letters to the houses and nobody has talked to us. They didn’t date the letters they sent to us, they didn’t even sign the letters they sent to us,” said Cumbers, who’s related to Global Winnipeg’s Senior Online Producer, Elisha Dacey.
“They are asking for input, but the letter’s written pretty much like this is supposed to be a done deal and it’s been put out at the end of the year, people are going home this weekend. Perhaps they’re thinking that they can slide this through without anybody taking notice,” said Collicut.
The province’s Provincial Parks Department sent an written statement to Global News Sunday afternoon, saying, “The department continues to openly engage with cottagers and residents at Star Lake and West Hawk Lake on proposed storage sites for cottage-based businesses in the area.”
“There is no final decision on these proposed sites and there is ongoing opportunity for cottagers and residents to ask questions, gain answers and voice concerns on the proposed sites. This process is continuing as transparently as possible,” read the statement released by Manitoba’s Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard.
Around 70 cottages sit along the single road that leads into Star Lake, and cottagers are concerned the project will bring unwanted traffic to the area.
“With only the one road, it scares the begeebies out of me, it’s all about safety to me. This is a playground for kids, we all walk back there, we walk our dogs, we walk the family, we all go hiking back there, we go blueberry picking and all that,” said Cumbers.
Once Collicut learned that the majority of his neighbours sided with him in the matter, he organized a gathering for Saturday afternoon.
“The opposition is pretty significant, we’ve only had about three or four days to arrange for a meeting. We had to make cardboard signs with marker for people coming out for the long weekend. We have about 60 to 70 cottages in that sub division and we had 90 people out to our meeting of opposition for this.”
“We’re not anti-business, we’re pro Star Lake, we just don’t want this thing happening in our backyard,” Collicut concluded.