Doug Collicutt is angry over a letter he recently received from the province notifying him about a proposed storage site for cottage-based businesses near his property.
Collicutt, who has had a cottage at Star Lake in the Whiteshell for more than 25 years, says the letter that went out to people in his subdivision is vague, undated, not signed and doesn’t say who the businesses who want the industrial space are.
“Are they landscapers, are they carpenters, are they plumbers or taxidermy? I don’t know. No one knows,” said Collicutt.
Collicutt says he’s not alone in feeling miffed and left out. More than 140 people have signed a petition, and 90 showed up for a public meeting on the beach on the weekend to voice their opposition.
Most were angry about being left in the dark without answers, Collicutt said.
“Why do they want to stick this in our backyard? What are these cottage-based businesses? What are they proposing for the site? Why did they pick here? Do they know how much we use that area for recreation already and why is land that was formerly remediated and revegetated sites now being proposed for bulldozing?” said Collicutt, highlighting some of the questions raised at the weekend meeting.
He says one of the proposed industrial spaces is about 300 metres from his cottage. It used to be home to a small landfill site that the province remediated. A nearby sand pit mine was also decommissioned and the land revegetated. A commercial logging road is also gone.
“We were all thinking we finally got things back to nature. There is a series of old mining and logging roads that people now use for walking, hiking and berry picking,” Collicutt said.
“We were so happy all these developments and disruptions were stopped. We thought it was the end of it and now the Provincial Parks Department wants to come along and bulldoze a couple of hectares on these recovered sites which also includes some existing older forest.”
He adds similar projects have been rejected by cottagers and residents at Falcon Lake and Barren Lake. Collicutt says they aren’t anti-business, but they are pro-Star Lake.
“There is nothing wrong with businesses operating in the park, but they shouldn’t be setting up mini industrial complexes right behind cottages,” said Collicutt.
The province continues to engage with cottagers and residents at Star lake and West Hawk Lake on proposed storage sites for cottaged-based businesses, a spokesperson for Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard said in a statement.
The statement also said no final decision has been made on the sites and cottagers and residents can ask questions and voice their concerns. The deadline for feedback is September 18.
But Collicutt and those who oppose the sites feel the tone of the letter implies the decision is a done deal.
Residents and cottagers say they will continue to push back. They are sending emails, letters and their petition to those individuals involved in provincial planning.
“We will bombard them with our opposition. This isn’t just a few people. This is a large scale effort to block the development,” said Collicutt.
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