Owners wary of Greig Lake development

By Ben Ingram

Residents and businesses feel they have been left in the dark over a government plan to open up the west side of Greig Lake to development.

After receiving three separate proposals to develop rental accommodations in the area, letters were sent out in December of 2010 to 14 of the park’s stakeholders to get a sense of how the area would react to a development, one that could include a restaurant, lounge, or convention facilities.

Six months later, the government has said it has received enough feedback to begin entertaining proposal ideas for development.

“I had no knowledge of that at all,” said Brent Pevach, owner of the Parkland Hotel in Dorintosh.

Pevach said that if a restaurant were to be built in the area, it would likely have a negative impact on his business.

“I think that’s terrible,” he said. “Ninety per cent of the people that want a meal come here,” he said, adding that summer time traffic from the park accounts for most of the restaurant’s income.

Brenda Mamer, the partial owner of Tawaw Cabins at Waterhen Lake, said she was also unaware of the proposal which could have a direct effect on her business.

Owner of the Flotten Lake Resort, Derrick Rempal, was also surprised to hear about the possibility of development in the area.

“[They] musn’t think that we’re stakeholders. We’ve got accommodations in the park, why wouldn’t we be,” he asked. “I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I’m just wondering why we didn’t get any kind of [contact],” he said.

Kevin Engel, with the Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport, is the manager of business development and leasing for park services.

“We’ve actually had three separate unsolicited proposals for fixture of rental accommodation in the park, of different types,” he said. “The three of them actually were looking at different locations, so we decided to go to the park advisory group.”

Engel said the ministry’s choice of location – that of the west side of Greig Lake – was made to accommodate all three proposals. The ministry will also be accepting further tenders, hopefully by this fall, he said.

“I think it’s hard to expect that there wouldn’t be some kind of food service, but possibly not,” he said.

As for the process of mailing letters to stakeholders, Engel said it is common with provincial parks, that public meetings are held to address larger issues of concern. Once stakeholders are notified, the ministry expects they will consult other local members to get a sense of what the response to the proposal might be.

“We don’t tell them how to do that, we expect when they accept that role that they put in some kind of process,” he said. “There’s no way we will always please everybody.”

Cottage owner Bert Summerfeld was one of the stakeholders to receive a letter in December, followed by a May letter which said development opportunities are going to be advertised for the west side of Greig Lake.

“The people we talked to wanted to know more and we couldn’t tell them because we didn’t know,” Summerfeld said. He added that the letters were vague in detail about what the proposals could mean. “I can only read what the letter says and it says nothing,” Summerfeld said.

According to him, the timing of the letters made consultation difficult as the park is usually mostly empty in December. That responses were requested by January added to that difficulty.

“What can you tell them when nobody’s here,” he asked.

According to the park’s manager and author of the letters, Colette Schmulz, the process of consultation is one that depends on interests across all areas of the park, including cottage owners, businesses and First Nations groups.

“I had only heard from one of the businesses in the area and this has been sort of mixed response,” she said.

“All it is, is a request for proposal at this point,” she stressed. “We’re still getting feedback.”

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