Province accused of keeping secrets regarding Whiteshell project


By Marianne Curtis

   An environmental group is accusing the province of being underhanded by keeping the public uninformed about plans for developing a children’s camp near Mediation Lake, in the Whiteshell Provincial Park.

   In April, the province announced a proposed partnership with the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation that could see the construction of a new year round children’s camp. The new camp will be constructed near Mediation Lake, in the Whiteshell Provincial Park.

   Eric Reder local director of the Wilderness Committee is accusing the province of holding secret negotiations with Tim Horton Childrens Foundation to build a massive youth camp in the vacinity of Mediation Lake for over a year.

   “Road building work in March tipped off the public to the secret development, and the Wilderness Committee has been asking for explanations on the project ever since,” explained Reder.

   Reder says that Freedom of Information requests were filed on April 9 days after the development was announced by the province but the information was never received.

   “We asked the government that the public open houses be delayed until the information we requested were answered, but that didn’t happen,” explained Reder. Shortly afterwards, a letter was received by the group says that the request could not be met within the time frame, after the public consultations closed, he added.

   “The information requests have not been answered,” stated Reder.

   Information of particular concern is who authorized a roadway to be bulldozed into an area of the park that has been managed as a remote-access destination for decades. Meditation Lake is also confirmed to have deadly toxins in it, but the water quality tests have not been made public.

   Finally, the group wants to see the Whiteshell Park management plan has been continually referred to by the Department of Conservation staff. However the document has never been made public.

   “Outside of the obvious mismanagement by the Conservation department, with the contempt shown for the public by the development ahead of any public announcement and the refusal to release information in a timely manner, this whole discussion is really about our parks,” said Reder. “This project can’t proceed at Meditation Lake. Meditation Lake and Horseshoe Lake are personally too valuable to Manitobans to give away to some private development.”

   Last summer Meditation Lake which is only accessible by hiking suffered a large toxic algae bloom in July, which may have killed off many of the freshwater clams. At the time, the group accused Manitoba Conservation for the die-off because clear cutting was taking place in the vicinity before the incident was discovered.

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