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VICTORIA BEACH, MB: CONCERNS OVER PROLIFERATION OF ZEBRA MUSSELS IN LAKE WINNIPEG
By Suzanne Forcese
Approximately 100 kilometers north of Winnipeg nestled on the shores of Lake Winnipeg lies the community of Victoria Beach with a permanent population of 400 that swells to over 5,000 during the summer. Like stepping into a time warp the annual flock of winter weary residents return home from world-wide locations to root themselves again in the family tradition of cottage life at the Beach - a tradition that has spanned 4 and 5 generations.
And while they all express their love for this idyllic location there has been much controversy, fear, and a sense of helplessness as they witness the declining health of Lake Winnipeg and its visible impact on "their Beach".
Reeve Penny McMorris expressed her concerns to WaterToday. "What can be done to restore the health of Lake Winnipeg and the impact of zebra mussels on our infrastructure are two of the most pressing issues regarding water in our community. Our provincial government provides limited management strategies, limited treatment options and little or no financial support."
The community of Victoria Beach draws its water from the lake for the water treatment plant. "The process will continue to cost more," Reeve McMorris adds. Added to the frustration she continues, "The province must approve the use of zebra mussel eradication or mitigation. And that is slow in coming."
In an interview with Tamie Archer, President of The Victoria Beach Cottagers' Association, Archer commiserated with the Reeve's concern. "There is really not a lot in their tool kit," she told Water Today, "The RM is a slow-moving target as far as the provincial government is concerned."
Archer also referred to the "natural cycle of zebra mussels" and stated that Cottagers want to respect that cycle; however, "we have to continue to look at equipping ourselves with education and knowledge before implementing intervention." And while she also sees a need to strike a balance between the natural cycles and intervention she also added, "We need to be cautious."
Both the Cottagers Association and The Rural Municipality of Victoria are working on solutions to restore the health of Lake Winnipeg and the beaches for continuing generations.
The smallest rural municipality in Manitoba boasting the finest beaches, Victoria Beach lies on a small peninsula extending into Lake Winnipeg. From the third Thursday in June to the Monday of the September Labour Day weekend, the vehicle restricted area is off limits to vehicle traffic providing a relaxed atmosphere free of public traffic and commercialism.
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