Cottagers and long weekend revellers in the northern area of Whiteshell Provincial Park will have to evacuate beginning Tuesday as water levels continue to rise.
In a release late Sunday, the province says an evacuation order will take effect at 5 p.m. on May 24 for the following areas: Sylvia Lake, Eleanor Lake, Otter Falls, Barrier Bay and Nutimik Lake and the current Betula Lake closure area announced on Friday.
“Rising water levels and rapidly evolving conditions are posing a significant risk to public safety. People are strongly urged to not enter the area or return to their properties, and for those already there, plan to leave at the earliest opportunity,” the province said.
Most southern and central Manitoba basins including the Winnipeg River basin in Ontario and the Whiteshell Lakes area, have received a significant amount of precipitation since April 1. The Whiteshell Lakes area received a record amount of precipitation exceeding all previous records since 1951. The heavy spring precipitation came on top of very high amounts of snow accumulation between November and March and resulted in significant inflow volumes into the lakes.
Timeframes for the evacuation order and expanded closure area are:
- Tuesday, May 24 at noon: Manitoba Parks will conclude preparatory activities, such as a sandbagging operation at Otter Falls
- Tuesday, May 24 at 5 p.m.: the director of parks will implement the expanded closure area requiring all residents and park users to evacuate the expanded closure area by this time.
The evacuation order and expanded closure will apply to all cottage subdivisions, commercial areas, campgrounds, group use, day use, recreational and picnic areas, playgrounds, trails and beaches.
As part of the closure, Manitoba Parks will close nightly and seasonal camping at Dorothy Lake, Opapiskaw and Nutimik Lake campgrounds effective Monday, May 23 at 3 p.m. The nightly campground at Big Whiteshell Lake south shore will also close at this time. The closures will remain in effect until Monday, June 6, 2022.
Manitoba Parks is also implementing the immediate closure of all backcountry campsites in Whiteshell Provincial Park.
A list of restricted lakes, boat launch closures, campground, and trail closures is available at ManitobaParks.com.