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Tourism Sector Calls on Governments to Support Clear Lake Businesses

May 10, 2024 11:33 AM | News

Zebra Mussels

This July 1, 2010 photo shows zebra mussels clustered on a small tree branch that had fallen into Rice Lake near Brainard, Minn. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, The Star Tribune, David Brewster)

With the recent news of Clear Lake being closed to boaters this season, owing to the discovery of zebra mussels, two Manitoba tourism associations are urging the provincial and federal governments to help business owners in the area.

Parks Canada announced Thursday that personal watercraft, including non-motorized items such as canoes and standup paddle boards, won’t be permitted in the lake this summer.

The Tourism Industry Association of Manitoba and Indigenous Tourism Manitoba are calling for financial support for local businesses and increased funding to the visitor experience in Riding Mountain National Park.

“Federal and provincial governments have a duty to step up with support programs to ensure businesses can continue to serve visitors to the region,” said John Gunter, TIAM board chair.

There isn’t a timeline for when a reassessment of the lake will be completed or when boats may return to the popular lake destination.

During an unrelated media event in Carberry on Friday, Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew said he was disappointed that the federal government let the situation in Clear Lake get to the point of closing the lake for recreation.

“Where was the action last summer?” Kinew asked. “We got to do right by the lake and the environment. But the way it’s been handled with the closure and not a lot of conversation or consultation… I don’t think was the best approach. What it also means, for us as a provincial government, is that those boats are going to go somewhere.”

Kinew said the province has allocated an additional $500,000 in funding this year to watercraft inspection and cleaning stations.

“Manitobans are going to enjoy summer, so we’re going to have to ensure we respond to this federal government announcement by putting in those resources to ensure there are good supports for some of these other summer destinations.”

Meanwhile, the tourism associations are calling on both levels of government to contribute $1 million this season, evenly split between improving the visitor experience in the park and providing economic relief to local businesses in the area.

“It is critical, now more than ever, that all levels of government engage with the community to address the impacts of this decision and develop long-term solutions,” added Chuck Davidson, president and CEO, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.