Posted by: Vicki Burns | August 10, 2011

Lake Winnipeg’s Victoria Beach Erosion Issues Motivate Community Involvement

image of beach on lake

Ross Bailey and neighbours’ beach near Gimli

I attended the last of three public meetings at Victoria Beach on Monday night and was so impressed with the calibre of presentations from the twenty-one members of the public. The presentations were part of a public consultation on the issue of shoreline erosion and what should be done about it. An advisory committee has been set up to produce a report to the RM Council at Victoria Beach and to allow public participation in this heated issue.
The tone of the meeting was vastly different from the first meeting I attended on this issue last January. There was much more respect and a clear desire for a mutually beneficial solution. There were several themes that ran through many of the presentations, the first of which was recognition of the spiritual, aesthetic and historic connection that many people have to the beaches at Victoria Beach. So many people have been part of the Victoria Beach community for several generations and the beaches there are a significant part of those experiences. The second theme that seemed to resonate throughout was a feeling that the Hydro regulation of the lake was keeping it at heights that exacerbated the erosion. I don’t have enough knowledge of that issue to comment in an intelligent manner but with the upcoming Clean Environment Commission hearings on regulation of the lake, I hope we are able to acquire more unbiased information.

Ross Bailey’s neighbour who didn’t use shoreline technique, erosion from weather bomb in Oct. 2010

Two weeks ago, I spent an afternoon touring Lake Winnipeg shores on the west side of the lake around Gimli. Ross Bailey, a member of the Shoreline Erosion Technical Advisory Committee, wanted to show me the unique approach he had taken to shoreline issues at his own home twenty-five years ago. His approach has resulted in he and his neighbours, who’ve followed suit, having a beautiful beach and no erosion issues. However it requires a real shift in attitudes away from saving every foot of land towards understanding the natural lake processes and working with them. It may not be applicable to every situation but I think it merits consideration.
In the end, I am much more aware now of the natural rate of erosion for Lake Winnipeg shores and the inevitability of nature’s powers. It seems that we should keep this in mind to ensure that any future building is well back from the shores.

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