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March 3, 2022 Meeting with Parks

Regarding Potential Mining Operations south of Star Lake:
Parks for People or Profit?

By Doug Collicutt

Star Very SmallMarch 15 Update: I moved the mining related information over to this page:

Mining Operations in Our Backyard.

Please forward the link to this page to anyone you think may be interested. Thanks.

On March 3, 2022 I had an online meeting with Joanne Podolchuk, Park Specialist and Glen Holmes, Senior Manager, Planning and Coordination, both of Parks Branch. (As both were acting in their official capacity I just refer to “Parks’’ when referencing their comments.)

Current activities relating to the potential development of a commercial mine south of Star Lake (Mining in Our Backyard?) was my initial impetus for contacting Parks for a meeting, but we discussed a variety of other topics as well. Both Joanne and Glen were aware that I planned to post some notes from our discussion on the Star Lake Cottagers website. Overall I found it to be a very useful discussion and was pleased by the efforts they made to encourage dialogue with cottagers. I emphasized that, currently, cottagers often feel left out of local decision making and tend to find out things after the fact; not a great situation.

I'll start by saying that as a “south Star Lake” cottager some of what was discussed pertains more to the Blks 4,5,6 community than to the folks on the north side of the lake, but I’m sure all Star Lakers will be interested and, hopefully, supportive of the positions I presented. If there are specific issues that folks in Blks 1,2,3 feel need to be addressed please let me know. (Email link below)

Notes on specific issues, to the best of my recollection, follow.

Communication: I began by expressing the position that we, as cottagers have the right to be informed and to have a say in what goes on in OUR BACKYARD. Folks at the south of Star Lake, in Blks 4,5,6 consider everything once you turn off Hwy 301 to be our backyard. We use all the roads, trails, forests and meadows south of Star Lake year-round for our recreation. I expressed my frustration with the lack of communications relating to numerous issues and actions that have occurred at Star Lake in the past. (Far too many activities, actions and policy changes have occurred in the past with no consultation.)

I suggested that with modern social media and email that it should be easy to contact cottagers to let us know what’s being planned in our local areas. Parks’ response was that given the large number of Whiteshell cottagers it was difficult to provide that sort of outreach. Parks has been active in liaising with the Whiteshell Cottagers Association (WCA) and I agreed that with the extra effort the WCA has been demonstrating lately that this was a good avenue for communication of information relating to the entire park and to certain specific issues. (Though it must be remembered that not all cottagers are members of the WCA and therefore less likely to benefit from it as a communication source point.)

Ms. Podolchuk stated that she would like to be our first point of contact regarding issues we face. Her email address is given below and on the Information page. I stated that I would continue to operate the Star Lake Cottager’s website and use it plus our Star Lake contact email group and the Star Lake Cottager’s FaceBook page to keep my neighbours informed regarding all issues.

Current Mining Issue

Parks has been monitoring the activities of the company currently exploring for mineral resources on their lease south of Star Lake (the old Sunbeam and Penniac Mine sites). I was assured that various steps would follow, each requiring information submissions and further permit applications before any actual mining might be allowed. These would include a formal environmental impact assessment, Indigenous consultations and, hopefully, consultations with local residents and cottagers (personally, I intend to demand we be consulted).

I expressed my personal opposition to a mining operation in our backyard and that I was certain that other cottagers and residents would object to such an operation for the same reasons that we rejected Parks’ CLISS proposal in 2020. Further to that issue I was asked where storage sites would be appropriate/allowable? My reply “nowhere near cottage subdivisions” and I suggested the businesses wanting such facilities should be the ones to pay for and develop sites in a currently undeveloped location. (I would have thought this ought to apply to any mining activity, too?)

Hopefully, the current mineral explorations will prove the site to be unworthy of further efforts and the issue will be resolved. But I suspect that we will have to be vigilant in following this process. It may take some time and I doubt that either the company involved or our government will be forthcoming with the status of the situation. It will be up to us to demand that our interests are front and center.

I will be contacting Parks on a regular basis to stay up-to-date with the situation and will report any information I receive. Please check in regularly, stay aware and talk to your neighbours about this.

(I hope the folks at other lakes and throughout our provincial parks will follow this situation and, if necessary, support us if we need to take action to prevent a mining operation here. If it can happen here it can happen in your backyard, too! If you have friends, family or contacts at other lakes please pass this information along!)

Mine Remediation

We discussed the actions over recent years to remediate old mining sites south of Star Lake. I inquired as to the costs of the large-scale operation in 2014 to remediate numerous sites along the trail from Star to Falcon Lake. Parks was unable to provide this information. (I hope to be able to get this information from Mines Branch.) I noted that there are still a number of mine sites and open shafts in the area, including the dangerous one by the pond south of Star Lake well known to local kids. Parks was made aware of the state of this particular site two years ago, but it remains a dangerous site.

I noted that in the case of the remediation of the old sand extraction site (sand pit) in 2016 a pond used by 7 species of amphibians for breeding was needlessly filled in. Had we been informed of the remediation ahead of time it could have been accomplished without destruction of this wildlife resource. (Yes, I know the pond was actually an artifact of the sand pit operation, but, as it posed no danger to people, there was no need to fill it in, depriving local wildlife of a useful resource.)

ATVs in the Park

The use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is prohibited in Whiteshell Park, except under certain permitted situations. But try to find that information on Parks’ website! It is there, but buried pretty deeply. I suggested that some signs letting folks know that ATVs are not permitted in the Park would be appropriate and Parks responded that this is something they would discuss. Personally, I support the ban on ATV use, but I’m concerned that the growing number of ATVs in the Park may result in pressure from special interest groups for changes to allow their use. Parks suggested to me that video evidence of illegal use of ATVs is acceptable for Conservation Officers to begin actions or prosecutions for violations. Please bear this in mind if you encounter illegal ATV use.

Garbage Removal

I suggested that the new small brown garbage bins located at the one-and-only Star Lake garbage/recycling site on Hwy 301 would result in bear and other wildlife problems at the site. Parks countered citing tests of the bins at Falcon Lake proved them to be effective and that bears were not a problem. I know the new bin system is designed to cut costs, but I suggested that in time the bears will figure things out. I guess we’ll have to see how things work out. Please report any sightings of bears or results of their activities around the new bins.


I requested that Parks update the current Whiteshell Hunting map to accurately reflect the extent of the 300 m “buffer zone” protecting developed areas in the park. The crude map currently shows the Hydro Transmission line directly south of Blk 6 as within the allowable hunting area, whereas it clearly is not (see the maps at the Make Hunting Season Safe link below). Parks stated that the matter is under consideration. I mentioned that it took me 10 minutes to produce an accurate map on Google Earth delineating 300 m from cottage roads.

I noted that, back in 2013 when Parks changed the hunting regulations to permit hunting in the former Game Bird Refuge that encompassed most of the south Whiteshell Park, that cottagers received no consultation. I and others found out about the situation by encountering hunters on the trails behind our cottages. While special interest hunting groups had clearly been informed of the changes the old Whiteshell Park Hunting Map remained on their web site for several weeks afterward causing some confusion and consternation.

I stated my opposition to hunting so close to homes and cottages and that I would prefer a return to the former no-hunting zone in south Whiteshell Park. I inquired about the legality of hunting on designated snowmobile trails, particularly in light of this past year’s overlap between snowmobile season and deer rifle season in the park. Parks were unable to address this issue and suggested I contact the Conservation Officer division for information. Please refer to Make Hunting Season Safe for All! for more info and maps.

Manitoba Hydro

I requested information on how to deal with the actions of Manitoba Hydro around Star Lake. Many folks have had trees trimmed, topped or removed next to their lots without their knowledge. Removal and renewal of hydro poles has also occurred at times with little forewarning and left unsightly remains. Parks stated that Hydro is subject to various permit processes for actions within the Park, but that we should contact Hydro for specific information.

Wildfires in the Park

As I’m sure all of us know, the last few years have been frightening ones regarding wildfires. Fire safety was one of the major issues brought forth in our rejection of the CLISS proposal. I emphasized the one-way in/out road leading to Blks 4,5,6 and how concerned we were about any developments that might trigger a fire in the area. I happened to mention the Toniata fire from last year as an example, thinking that the Alec Young work yard had been the cause of the fire. Parks assured me that upon investigation they had determined that the fire started near the road leading to Toniata, not on the Young property, though they were uncertain as to the exact cause. I would like to apologize for having spread any misinformation regarding this fire to anyone. But I did point out that there seemed to be no effort to have presented the correct information to locals and cottagers.


I was very pleased with my meeting with Ms. Podolchuk and Mr. Holmes and I hope it represents a new era of improved communication between Parks and cottagers. I am aware of the logistical difficulties faced by Parks staff in dealing with around 3000 cottages and their occupants in Whiteshell Park. So I feel that the onus will fall on us to be proactive to contact Parks and insist that we be provided with the information we need to protect and enjoy our piece of Whiteshell Park. Ms. Podolchuk's contact info is below:

Joanne Podolchuk, Park Specialist
Manitoba Parks Environment, Climate and Parks
Box 4000 Lac du Bonnet, MB R0E 1A0
T 204-792-3503 F 204-345-1415

Email: Joanne Podolchuk, Park Specialist

Share Information

If anyone has additional information on any of these topics or would like to express their own opinions here please email your thoughts to me. If you would like to have your thoughts posted here you must agree to let me include your name. Email your thoughts.

In Closing

Let me finish by saying that, in the terrible times we find ourselves in, it may seem small and petty to be worried about a mining operation at Star Lake, but the principle is the same:

"protecting a place we love."

Doug Collicutt


- none yet.

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