After four weeks of the general closure and evacuation order in effect at the Whiteshell Provincial Park, it is slowly being reopened to residents.
Manitoba Environment, Climate and Parks in collaboration with Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure are announcing a gradual and phased reopening plan beginning June 10 at 1 pm because of the receding water levels.
Access to the northern part of the park is available only to cottage owners, permanent residents, and commercial operators and clients. Residents are encouraged to check and monitor conditions before arriving in the Whiteshell and all other provincial parks. However, day users and campers are still not permitted within the area.
Campgrounds will remain closed due to flooding and potentially unsafe conditions. Even though the water levels are expected to crest this week, water recession may take several weeks yet.
Manitoba Parks reminds visitors to obey road and trail closures and not attempt to drive through flooded areas or cross damaged bridges or bypass barricades.
Locals will have access to Provincial Road (PR) 307 and are being told to be cautious of the temporary traffic signals in place to ensure the public's safety in single-lane traffic areas. The temporary signage may cause delays and motorists are reminded to proceed with caution.
The closure is revoked for Sylvia Lake, Eleanor Lake, Otter Falls, Dorothy Lake, Barrier Bay and Nutimik Lake. Meanwhile, Betula lake and surrounding areas, including cottages, commercial areas, campgrounds, group and day-use areas, and recreational and picnic areas are still closed due to unsafe water levels and road conditions.
Among that, all backcountry campsites will remain closed in Whiteshell Provincial Park along with multiple trails including the Mantario Trail.
According to the government website, the following trails are still closed due to overland flooding: Hunt Lake, Mantario, Falcon Marsh Trail (between Falcon Lake Marina and Beach Campground), Trans Canada Trail at Penniac Bay, and Whiteshell River. Pine Point, Foresters Footsteps, Bannock Point Petroforms and the Trans Canada Trail between White Lake and Seven Sisters are also closed due to the evacuation and closure order for the northern Whiteshell.
Manitoba Parks is working with Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure to put together a first phase plan to reopen the area as water levels are improving and conditions become safer. Campground infrastructure, including electrical water and wastewater systems, are still under assessment and maintenance may be required before becoming operational again.
Watercraft restrictions are still in place on lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park to limit erosion and property damage that may be caused by boats.
Campsite reservation holders will be contacted and refunded if their campsite is affected by flooding. Campers are also encouraged to not prematurely cancel campsite reservations before being contacted, as cancellation policies will be applied.
The water levels and road conditions are continuously being monitored by Manitoba Parks with Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure, Emergency Measures Organization, Conservation Officer Service, Office of the Fire Commissioner, Manitoba Wildlife Service and Manitoba Hydro ready for assistance.