January 10, 2018
NEWS REGARDING THE “SPECIAL SERVICES AREA PLAN“ FOR SANDY LAKE
The “Friends of Sandy Lake”, (formerly the Sandy Lake Cottage Owners Association) formed an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Committee to investigate, make recommendations, and to go forward with implementing appropriate measures to protect Sandy Lake from being invaded by Zebra Mussels.
On September 3, 2017, Recommendations were presented by the AIS Committee and approved for implementation before the boating season begins in 2018.
It is important to note that, although the Committee's ongoing activities are focused on protecting Sandy Lake, the Province is interested in what levels of protections can be established through the will and participation of local players to protect their lakes. The awareness of AIS threats and the high level of concern has created a unique situation at Sandy Lake where the Province, Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, our local community, the Municipality of Harrison Park and individuals are working together to explore to what extent Sandy Lake can be protected from our new Zebra Mussel and other invasive species threats that are on the horizon. From the perspective the Province and the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, it is hoped that we can not only protect Sandy Lake but that guidelines can be established that other concerned communities can implement.
On October 31, 2017, Friends of Sandy Lake AIS Committee presented a proposal to council that would add a layer of protection for the lake beyond what the Province of Manitoba would be willing to do for an individual lake. The proposal involved restricting boat launching activity to the main dock at Sandy Lake and operating a boat inspection station there. These measures reflect what is being done in Riding Mountain National Park and at Gull Lake in the municipality of St. Clements.
At this meeting, Council passed motion 266/2017 requesting their administration to prepare a “special service area plan” for aquatic invasive species, specifically for the properties in and around Sandy Lake. At that time the Municipality of St. Clements had already started this process for Gull Lake*.
On December 12, 2017, Council passed motion 301/2017 that tabled the “special service area plan” of their motion 266/2017, putting it on hold and preventing the process of public meetings to ask the Sandy Lake rate payers if they would be willing to pay additional taxes for the extra protection measures proposed for the Lake.
On January 9, 2018, Friends of Sandy Lake made another presentation to Council clarifying the previous presentation of October 31 and emphasizing the economic impact that a zebra mussel invasion would have on the Sandy Lake community and the necessity of the extra protection that should be put in place by the community with the assistance of the municipality.
Council would not re-consider the motion of December 12, 2017 that “the special service area plan for the aquatic invasive species, specifically for the properties in and around Sandy Lake, be tabled until such time as the Province of Manitoba commits to an effective AIS prevention strategy for western Manitoba”. Council stated is that it is the Province’s responsibility to protect Manitoba from this threat.
The AIS Committee is very disappointed with Council's decision and are most concerned about the potential impacts to the local community and businesses. Only the community with help from the Municipality can put the additional layer of protection on Sandy Lake. The committee believes that the rate payers of Sandy Lake should be allowed to decide if the additional protection for the Lake should be put in place. This can be done through the public meeting process for establishing the special service area plan for the aquatic invasive species.
The meeting, however, ended on a positive note, with an agreement that Council would continue to work with the Committee to make the public aware of threats of zebra mussels and what people need to do to help prevent the spread of AIS.