Gull 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?
- The total cost for the inspection program will be $29,800
- The RM proposes that each owner of occupied properties in the Gull Lake area pay $100 per year on their annual property tax bill through a special service charge
- This funding model will be in effect from 2018 to 2023 at which time it will be reconsidered
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?
- We created a plan in collaboration with the Gull Lake Basin Management Board and residents
- Public feedback at a public hearing will determine whether we decide to go forward with the Special Service charge
- The plan is sent to the Municipal Board for approval
- 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.
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.
Is the RM of St. Clements contributing money for this from their general operating fund?
No, not for this specific initiative. In previous years, the RM has given several grants to the Gull Lake area for projects such as zebra mussel management and Gull Lake aeration.
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 contact CAO DJ Sigmundson at email@example.com or by regular mail at Box 2, Group 35, RR1, East Selkirk, R0E 0M0 prior to the public hearing on November 7, 2017 or you can attend the hearing and voice your objection in person.
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
- 298 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