Gull Lake Zebra Mussel Prevention

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A public hearing was held on November 7, 2017 for residents to voice their concerns. Council modified the plan based on public input and approved it.

What has changed from the original plan?

Download Gull Lake Special Service Plan Update

Our original plan
The annual charge per parcel of land would be $100.

What we heard you say
The charge per parcel should be less than this and the RM should contribute some money toward this project.

Result
The annual charge per parcel of land will be $75 and the RM will grant the remaining 25% of the special service costs.
Our original plan
Residents of occupied properties would pay 100% of the costs.

What we heard you say
A user pay system should be adopted because :
- Not all area residents use the boat launch
- Many who do use it are not from the area

Result
The RM will pay 25% of the costs and residents will pay 75%. User pay is not possible because the boat launch is in the RM of Alexander.
Our original plan
Any surplus funds collected through the special service charge would be given to the Gull Lake Basin Management Board for equipment maintenance.

What we heard you say
If there are surplus funds from the special charge, the money should be returned to the taxpayer.

Result
We will return any surplus money raised by the service charge to taxpayers.
Our original plan
298 occupied properties were going to pay the service charge.

What we heard you say
Properties on the south side of Stead Road that are included in the service plan do not benefit from Gull Lake or use the lake so they should not have to pay the service charge.

Result
15 properties from the south side of Stead Road have been removed and will not have to pay the special service charge.

Gull Lake Special Service Plan Update
To implement this plan and special services area charge, Council created a by-law adopting the plan. The proposed by-law must now go through three readings in Council to become law.

Council gave first reading to By-Law No. 12-2017 on November 21:“Being a By-Law of the Rural Municipality of St. Clements to establish a rate for operation of boat launch and inspection station as a special service in Gull Lake for the years 2018-2023 inclusive.” Download By-Law 12-2017 and Schedule A.pdf

Next Steps

  • By-law sent to Municipal Board for approval
  • The Municipal Board will review the by-law, consider any public objections and make a decision
    The decision may be to approve, refuse or require amendments to the by-law or to hold a public hearing
  • Those who registered their objections with the RM either in person, by phone or by email, will be sent notice by mail that Council is creating this by-law and that they have the right to file a notice of objection with the Municipal Board

Background

Map of Gull Lake in the RM of St. Clements, ManitobaGull Lake is the centre of a small cottage/residential community located in the Rural Municipality of St. Clements. Residents have been increasingly concerned about the recent spread of zebra mussels, an aquatic invasive species, to Manitoba (learn more  about zebra mussels here). As far as we know, zebra mussels are not yet in Gull Lake.

Concerned Gull Lake volunteers have been working for several years now to prevent zebra mussels from entering Gull Lake, but with limited finances and resources. In the fall of 2017, they approached the RM of St. Clements for assistance and the outcome is that the RM has proposed to create a Special Service charge to fund an access controlled boat launch and inspection station.

The committee explored many options and felt this simple approach, while not perfect, could meet the urgent need to protect Gull Lake.

 The proposed plan

  • Create a staffed inspection station at Gull Lake public boat launch
  • Install a lockable gate that will only be open when inspection station is staffed
  • Inspection station will be open 7 days a week from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm from May to September long weekends
  • Inspection services will be available outside of regular hours by phoning a posted cell phone number

What is the cost and who is paying for it?

Zebra mussels attached to a native clam, found on Patricia Beach, Manitoba in October 2015
  • The total cost for the inspection program will be $28,300
    • Staffing cost: $25,575
    • Pressure washer manitenance and replacement: $2,000
    • Misc supplies: $725
  • The RM proposes that each owner of 283 occupied properties in the Gull Lake area pay $75 per year on their annual property tax bill through a special service charge for a total of $21,225
  • The RM of St. Clements will contribute 25% of the total or $7,075
  • This funding model will be in effect from 2018 to 2023 inclusive at which time it will be reconsidered

When will you start charging us?

You will be charged on your 2018 property tax bill.

Can the by-law be changed after the public hearing and if so, do residents have to be noticed?

Yes, the by-law can be changed. If the amendments negatively impact the ratepayers, another public hearing might have to be held.

Can Council cancel this by-law before its review date in 2023?

Yes, if a petition representing fifty properties is received.

If a vacant lot becomes occupied, can it be added to the special service area?

Yes, it can

What is a special service charge?

When residents of a particular neighbourhood request services beyond what is normal in the municipality, the RM must create something called a special service charge to ensure only people in that neighbourhood pay for it.

This process is outlined in the Manitoba Municipal Act. The cost for a service is calculated for a particular area and then spread amongst properties identified within the special service area.

How does a special service charge work?

  1. We created a plan in collaboration with the Gull Lake Basin Management Board and residents
  2. Public feedback at a public hearing will determine whether we decide to go forward with the Special Service charge
  3. The plan is sent to the Municipal Board for approval
  4. They will approve, make conditions, or reject the plan and may or may not require a public hearing

When is the Special Service Public Hearing?

The public hearing is on:
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 7:00 pm
RM of St. Clements Municipal Office
1043 Kittson Road, East Selkirk

Have any other funding options for this been explored?

Yes, Gull Lake Basin Management Board has explored other funding options and there are none at this time.

Why don’t we charge a user fee to use the boat launch to target non-residents?

The RM of St. Clements cannot charge user fees for the boat launch because it is located in the RM of Alexander. On its own, the Gull Lake Basin Management Board does not have the authority to charge boat launch fees either. In light of this the RM will contribute 25% of the cost of the service.

Does the RM of Alexander support this initiative?

Yes, the RM of Alexander is aware of this initiative and supports it. If they withdraw their support, the service would end and residents would stop paying the special service charge.

RM of Alexander Resolution, October 11, 2017
RM of Alexander Resolution, October 11, 2017

 

I do not have a boat, can I choose not to be part of the special service charge?

No. All properties included within the special service area must pay as per legislation.

What about vacant properties?

The proposed plan does not include vacant properties. These properties do not have to pay the $100 annual fee.

How is the presence of zebra mussels monitored?

The province relies on reports from the public via their website or by calling 1-87-STOP AIS-0 (1-877-867-2470). Residents should watch for them by periodically checking items that are immersed in the lake.

Who is in charge?

The RM of St. Clements will provide the service, however the day to day management will be by volunteer members of the Gull Lake Basin Management Board.

I would like to object to this special service charge. How do I do that?

You can register your objection with the Municipal Board by contacting:

The Secretary to The Municipal Board
1144-363 Broadway Ave
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 3N9

You must give them your name and address, the by-law number, identify the property in respect of which the objection is filed and state the grounds to the objection.

What happens next?

After the public hearing, if there is enough public support, Council will move forward with the special service charge. If there are few or no objectors, Council will likely proceed with the 1st reading of the by-law. After 1st reading, the by-law is sent to the Municipal Board, which has the authority to approve the special service charge or call for an additional hearing.

About Gull Lake

  • 283 occupied properties
  • Located 90% in the RM of St. Clements and 10% in the RM of Alexander
  • One public access boat launch in the north end of the lake
  • No marina or public mooring

 

 

Comments

10 comments on “Gull Lake Zebra Mussel Prevention

  1. Has the RM of Alexander agreed to the terms of this arrangement? As stated the boat launch is their property? It the RM of Alexander decided to stop allowing their property to be locked will the fee be removed?

  2. In order for this intent to control the zebra mussels to be fully effective, the many private docks at cottages around Gull Lake should be limited to the private owner’s of those properties.
    Too often when the public launch, which has the proper equipment is closed, boat owners will launch their boats at these properties without the proper cleaning.

    Is the RM looking at any by-laws that could prevent this?
    Will the property owners be notified if there is another hearing?

    1. Thanks for sharing your concerns. The RM is not considering any bylaws as the province already has a law that prevents transporting zebra mussels. Boat owners must take responsibility for properly cleaning their boats and water equipment if they don’t want to introduce zebra mussels into Gull Lake.

      The RM will not be holding any more hearings. Last Tuesday, November 21, Council approved the Gull Lake boat launch inspection station plan and adopted it into a bylaw to which they gave first reading. They have to give the bylaw two more readings for it to be in effect. It has been sent to the Municipal Board for review. The Municipal Board might decide to approve it, reject it, amend it and/or call a public hearing. Those who have voiced their objections with the RM will be notified that they have a right to register their objection with the Municipal Board. Notice will be given if there is a hearing.

    1. Hi Helen, Yes, council decided last Tuesday to go ahead with the plan. We will be sending out details later today.

  3. I own property in the Municipality (not in Gull Lake) and object to subsidizing 25% of the cost of the program for the benefit of residents there from my tax dollars. I am guessing that the vacant lots are owned by someone and those owners shouldn’t get a free ride and have their investments subsidized by other property owners in Gull Lake and others in the rest of the municipality.

    1. Hi Grant, some users of the Gull Lake boat launch are not residents of Gull Lake. Because the boat launch is located in the RM of Alexander, the RM of St. Clements cannot charge a user fee. The RM’s contribution of 25% or $7,075 is to help cover the cost of non-residents using the boat launch. It is very important to local residents and the RM to keep zebra mussels out of Gull Lake.

Comments are closed.