Gull Lake cottagers at odds over zebra mussel protection tactic

Cottagers on Gull Lake thought putting a gate up at the boat launch would help residents more closely monitor and inspect in-coming and out-going boats for zebra mussels. But it turns out the gate hasn't gone over well with some on the lake.

Lake bisected by border of rural municipalities of St. Clements and Alexander

Gull Lake residents are currently feuding over a gate that was recently put up at the local boat launch meant to control access to the lake and prevent the spread of zebra mussels. (The Associated Press/The News-Times, Carol Kaliff)

What seemed like a good way to keep zebra mussels out of one Manitoba water body is actually causing quite a stir amongst cottagers on one end of the lake.

Scott Minty has a cabin on Gull Lake, located about 73 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The lake is bisected by the borders of the rural municipalities (RM) of St. Clements and Alexander, with the majority of the lake falling on the St. Clements side.

Minty said recently cottagers on the St. Clements side of Gull Lake installed a gate at the communal boat launch that was only open during certain times of the day. He said the hope was "to allow boats entering the lake to be inspected and potentially disinfected prior to entering." 

"It's really to prevent uncontrolled access to the lake," he added.

But the RM of Alexander wasn't having it.

"I was told ... a couple of people with cutting torches removed our gate," Minty said. "With the goal of providing a model zebra mussel prevention program for the province, we've take a huge step backwards."

Minty said he and others on the St. Clements side were hoping to have had discussions with the RM of Alexander before they removed the gate. 

"Unfortunately they weren't willing to talk to us," he said.

Minty said that as far he knows from reading minutes from the RM of Alexander's recent meeting, the complaint stems from one resident who wants to have access to the lake at all times.

People on the lake are growing increasingly on edge about the potential invasion of the lake by zebra mussels. Minty said he hopes a deal can be reached soon that appeases everyone and puts the health and protection of Gull Lake ahead of all other concerns.

"We will be having discussions with provincial authorities this week and we will see what the future holds," he said. "I have grown up out here, and we don't want it to end this way."