Government to ferry cottagers around native blockade
The Manitoba government is providing boats to ferry people to their cottages on the east side of Lake Winnipeg this weekend to avoid road blockades set up by the Hollow Water First Nation.
The First Nation has said it will also let some cottagers through one of several blockades set up a month ago on roads in the area around Manigotagan, about 180 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
The blockade has kept about 60 existing cottage owners and another 50 recreational-vehicle owners off their property. Many are now raising concerns that their homes, vehicles and boats could be damaged if they are not able to prepare them for the winter freeze.
Ted Pichor, mayor of Powerview-Pine Falls, told CBC News on Thursday that provincial officials have told him help is on the way.
"I got a call from the government yesterday stating that they would have boats for all the cottagers that wanted to go in on the weekend," he said.
"Anybody from eitherAyer's Cove or Pelican Harbour or any of the other blocked areas can get in there and winterize their cottages and get their food out and do what they have to do."
Pichor, who owns a cottage behind the blockade, said he doesn't expect the First Nation to block people on the boats.
"Some people are maybe a little afraid of going out on the lake if it's a windy weekend," he said. "Sometimes you can get a northwest wind come up and it can get pretty rough....It could be a little scary for some people."
While he appreciates the province's offer of boats, Pichor said he would like to see the issue behind the blockades resolved.
"I guess that's the least the government is going to do for us. I mean, it still doesn't resolve the problem we have there with the blockades up and us not having access to our cottages."
Band members first blocked roads near Manigotagan in mid-September to protest Manitoba Conservation's new cottage subdivisions in the area.
The cottage developments are on Crown land and were part of the province's cottage lot draw. Band officials argue the proposed developments are on traditional land and that they should have been consulted.
Many treaties recognize a band's right to maintain traditional practices on unoccupied Crown land.