MUNICIPALITY OF BOISSEVAIN-MORTON — A local family is planning the construction of three small rental cabins at Adam Lake.
Located within Turtle Mountain Provincial Park, the project is the product of an agreement between Manitoba Parks and Turtle Mountain Adventure Huts Ltd. to construct up to three non-serviced cabins as part of a five-year pilot project.
Bidding on the request for proposals issued by the province was an easy decision to make, said Casey Guenther, who joins wife Christina in heading the newly formed company behind the cabins.
"We live a mile outside the park and we spend countless hours there in all seasons with our kids, and we enjoy skiing, biking canoeing, hiking," Casey said. "Being outside and in the park is a passion for us."
Although the James Lake Cabin is already available for use in the park, it’s in such high demand Casey said he believes the addition of three cabins will be well received by park users.
Each of the three cabins will be off-grid and 160 square feet in size, with a wood-burning stove, cooking area, eating and sleeping space and storage racks for gear.
Outside each cabin will be deck space, an outdoor cooking area and storage space for skis or bicycles, alongside an outhouse, wood storage, fire pit and picnic table.
"Kind of like a tiny cabin, so it’s a minimal impact on the forest, and they’re designed in a way so they’re temporary in nature," Casey said.
"If need be, we can pull them out and things can be restored really easily."
The announcement of these cabins comes following the revelation that the campground at St. Ambrose Beach Provincial Park on Lake Manitoba is now under a 21-year lease by a private businessman also responsible for looking after the beach.
A sign has been installed demanding visitors pay the businessman a $10 daily fee or $50 seasonal fee to access the public beach, for which people were told their annual provincial park passes were not valid.
Casey said he both understands and shares people’s concerns regarding privatization, but that "this is not the case" with the cabins, which are a new feature for the park to be placed on the equivalent of three camp sites on a five-year lease.
In speaking to the Winnipeg Free Press last week, Eric Reder of the Manitoba chapter of the Wilderness Committee classified the project, sparked by the province’s request for proposals, as "privatization."
"If you want to run new cabins, you could buy land outside of the park and build it there," he said. "These parks have already been paid for by taxpayers’ money, and now we’re giving them back to private investors."
"We’re pretty excited to make it more accessible for people — getting some newcomers or people who might not have all the camping gear, this could be a good way to get people out and enjoying the park," Casey said, adding that with Manitoba Parks’ ongoing involvement, it’s "not like we’re some private developer who can do what we want."
The Guenther family’s goal is to get as many locals involved in the design and construction of the cabins as possible and to have them available for rent by autumn.
"It’s not the best time to be building, with lumber prices and whatnot, but I think 160-square-foot cabins are doable," Casey said, pointing to adventurehuts.ca as a source of information on the project moving forward.
Adam Lake was bustling with activity Saturday — in part, likely a result of the province making access to provincial parks free during the weekend.
Included among those enjoying the park was Russell Glover, who joined his wife and kids in fishing along the bank of the lake.
Glover worked at the park in maintenance and heavy equipment for 25 years before retiring seven years ago, and still considers the area a "hidden gem" for many.
Although he wasn’t abreast of all the details, he was encouraged by what he’d heard regarding the Guenther family’s plans.
"Anything you can get like that is an attraction for the park," he said, adding diversity is key when it comes to drawing people in.
While he said his earlier days working at the park were devoted primarily to "building," those at the park are now at a stage where maintaining what’s already there has become a greater priority.
» email@example.com, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB