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President’s Report Issues related to Cottage Service Fees and Land Rent • Provincial Government launches a new strategy for Manitoba’s Provincial Parks • This strategy seems to focus mainly on how to raise more money from cottagers than on any other area of interest. • This report will summarize : • A time line of relevant events related to Fees and Rents • The public response of the WCA • The legal response of the WCA • Plans for future activities
1991 • Promise of greater Participation of Cottagers in Decision-Making re level and type of services desired
1993-2007 • 1993-New Parks Act; • Specifies the Minister to report to cottagers and other stakeholders • The Act: 18(2) (3), 20 • owners to review cost and level of service and fees to be charged • Annual estimate of costs in advance for next year • Financial statements to be available for review • Cottagers Handbook • Pay only for services available to you, if a service is not available, not charged for it! • Opportunity to review and give feedback on level and cost of services on regular annual basis • Committees to be established by Parks to enhance review of service fees and levels of services
Time line Continued 1983- 1999, Progressive increase in equivalent of mill rate for leased land, effective doubling by stealth of Park taxes from 2% to 4% • -Until 2002 annual cost estimates and budgets were actually provided to cottagers and other stakeholders
Time Line 2003-7, Legal Action • 2003- Ministry non-compliant withrequirements of the Act • 2003-5 growing discontent over apparent financial mismanagement in the Park District • 2005-7 Legal action by Cottagers Association • 2007 Settlement of legal action in favour of cottagers • promise of new financial management system by 2009 • promise of extensive communication with cottagers/ stakeholders re implementation of new system 2009 Deadline for Implementation
Timeline Concluded: New Parks Fee Strategy • 2009-2013 Essentially no communication between cottagers and parks re fees and services "you don't want to know” • March 2013 Announcement of NEW PARKS STRATEGY, a plan to increase fees and rates in Provincial Parks • …up to 500% increases in service fees • … up to 700% increases in lease rates • Aug 2013 introduction of the idea of a $3000 per year cap, for , ?1 year, 3 years or 4 years.
Three pronged response of WCA • First, we have engaged in a public affairs battle to correct the spin that has been a major feature of the Government and Free Press campaign • Second, we have engaged our legal advisor to guide us in taking the Ministry to court, if necessary • Third, we are planning an intensive communication strategy to maximally impact the government and ministry with demands from cottage owners to provide information on their costs and fees in accordance with the Parks Act.
Charge Countercharge • Government charge…Cottagers have had a free ride re costs for ten years. • Counterpoints, • 1) the reason that Parks has been slow in updating costs is because they have had a hopeless financial management system • 2) why should there be any increase in fees when • services have been declining and • 3) inflation in costs has been very low • 4) Show us the data on increased per cottage increase in costs and we will pay our fair share.
Point Counterpoint • Government charge…Cottagers are free loaders and are being subsidized by Manitobans. • Counterpoint…government data reveals that we are in fact paying more to the province than we are costing in the parks... • Government charge….Cottagers are paying less than "market value" rents for properties. • Counterpoint…our estimates for raw land value are in line with market values, government confuses municipal levels with include services and school taxes to falsely depict raw land value for leased or owned cottages
Point Counterpoint • Government charge …land appraisals have not been updated since 1983 • Counterpoint…appraisals are at the discretion of the ministry. We should not be held accountable for their foot dragging and/or incompetence. Also notable is that the actual rents rose by 100% between 1983 and 1999 due to a doubling of the "mill rate". • Government charge…cottagers are fat cats who are free loading on the general public • Counterpoint…cottagers are a slice of Manitoba citizenry…most cottagers are ordinary hard working Manitobans living the dream that this very government promotes …affordable cottaging!! Gov’t policy converting parks into fat cat playgrounds
Legal Response • We remain dissatisfied with the failure of the Minister to do his duty with respect to the parks act and the 2007 settlement agreement: • -We think the information that the ministry has released to us remains deficient, • -We believe that the Ministry has yet to demonstrate to us that a fair system of apportionment of costs in the Park has been implemented, 5 years after the fact, let alone that it complies with the requirements of the Parks Act
Communication Strategy • 1) Strengthen our relationships with similar organizations • meeting with provincial and Lake of the Woods Cottage Associations prior to AGM • 2) Ensure that the public continues to understand our position. • Stick to our simple messages
Communication Strategy Cottagers believe in paying our share of costs in Provincial Parks We believe that Minister should be bound by the words and intention of Parks Act Sections 18-20 Cottagers believe in the longstanding bipartisan parks policy of affordable Cottaging
Communication • Continue to actively inform the public of our position and offset political propaganda from the Ministry • Make sure our own MLA’s know our stance • Ensure that the Ministry lives up to its obligation to properly share information, as reiterated by Mr. Selinger himself.