Sandbag Questions for the Advisory Committee

The Province has announced that an advisory committee is to be set up with the Province and Municipalities to deal with current and future proposals for erosion control at Victoria Beach and the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg.

Here is a sample template letter for your consideration in regards to sandbag proposals. Feel free to use or alter any, all or none for your own purposes.

We are often told “I want to write but don’t know how to start” so this is merely offered as a place to start.

Here is the link to the questions/letter:

Please direct your emails and calls to:

Bill Blaike: NDP Minister of Conservation 204-945-3730
Fred Meier: Deputy Minister 204-945-3785

Melnick –
Premier Selinger –

Manitoba Water Stewardship
Box 11 – 200 Saulteaux Crescent, Winnipeg MB R3J 3W3 1-204-945-6398

Greg Dewar, Selkirk MLA


“Where Do We Go From Here” Letter

Here is a sample letter that you may use, ignore, alter or design to your own specifications to contact local government to make sure your voice is heard and so that we keep moving forward with this process of protecting the shorelines of Victoria Beach — and all of Lake Winnipeg and the South Basin.

Dear Member or Representative of Manitoba Government: 

Thank you so much for standing behind your environmental commitments to the electorate and issuing the stop order and immediate removal of the rock erosion control measures on Crown Land at Victoria Beach this past Thursday. It was comforting to know you would back up the Premiers slogan “to ensure all Manitobans can enjoy the lakes for generations to come.”

As we now move forward to address the erosion issues community and property owners face, I sincerely hope that the new Advisory Committee will be very careful and methodical when defining how to protect shorelines on Lake Winnipeg. We also look forward to the full implemented use of scientific knowledge and research, transparency and an incorporation of the entire community to participate and be engaged in finding solutions.

There is a vast amount of documented research that this community has diligently compiled against revetments in front of sand beaches for you to use and further investigate. (linked here for your convenience)


We feel it is time to recognize and address the reality that when an individual chooses to build on property in front of a sand beach owned by the Crown or a Municipality (a beach used extensively by the public community) consideration must be given to the limits of what can or cannot be done to protect the private property from mother nature and the natural process of erosion.

That shorelines like the sand beaches at Victoria Beach — and other delicate ecosystems like sand or marsh in the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg — must be subject to a higher standard.  They must have rigid protocols in place to environmentally protect their special designations and ensure their continued use and access  for the people of Manitoba for generations to come.

There must be such limitations since some actions to preserve personal property can possibly adversely affect the beaches in front; beaches these people do not own.

These actions may, in turn, affect the entire community’s right to the continued use and enjoyment of the beaches for now and generations to come.

It needs to be firmly and unequivocally recognized that owning property in front of a public sand beach is simply not the same as owning property in front of a rocky, unused and privately accessed waterfront.

As a result, it must be clearly defined as to what can or cannot be constructed in these cases and must be rigidly and powerfully enforced by the new Provincial Advisory Committee.

Finally, as it seems sandbags are now being proposed as a “temporary” option, can you confirm that your advisors are aware that all sandbag solutions are not the same? There are many questions that need to be answered and investigated in each specific scenerio or proposal.

Again, for your convenience, here is easy access to many questions that should be answered before going forward with any sandbag proposal:

In closing, I thank you again for your recent actions and I look forward to more positive and determined efforts by the Province and Municipalities towards lake and beach preservation.

It should always be important to help private owners with their erosion issues but we should never forget that protecting and preserving this lake and its great beaches for all Manitoban’s to enjoy — in the next days and in the future — should always be the top priority and consideration and should supersede all others.

Eyes and ears eagerly await your next moves.

Yours truly

It is suggested emails and calls be sent to:

Bill Blaike: NDP Minister of Conservation 204-945-3730
Fred Meier: Deputy Minister 204-945-3785

Melnick –
Premier Selinger –

Manitoba Water Stewardship
Box 11 – 200 Saulteaux Crescent, Winnipeg MB R3J 3W3 1-204-945-6398

Greg Dewar, Selkirk MLA


When contacting the province to request the removal of the rocks from the public provincial crown land, please refer to the following sections.

The applicable sections are #’s 27 and 29 of the Crown Lands Act.   (see below)

Section 27, subsections 7 and 8 refers to any work on Crown Land has to be taken out and Section 29, subsection 2 refers to the Minister of Conservation being responsible. (See details below)

Please remember, it is only the rock on Public Land that must be removed.


Ministry of Conservation.


Bill Blaike: NDP Minister of Conservation 204-945-3730
Fred Meier: Deputy Minister 204-945-3785

also write to the Environment Minister : Peter Kent  204-945-3952

and finally:

Victoria Beach Council:

Karin Boyd

Bruce Morrison

Tom Farrell

Kathy McKibbin

Penny McMorris

R. M. of Victoria Beach

Directly from the Crowns Lands Act:
27(7) Except in the exercise of a right or authorization given or a duty imposed by law, any person who
(a) uses or occupies; or
(b) enters, uses or occupies any building or structure upon; or
(c) brings or erects, and leaves, any building, structure or thing upon;
any Crown lands, including Crown lands in a local government district or set aside or designated by order in council as public shooting grounds, a fur rehabilitation block, a wildlife management area, a provincial park or a provincial forest, or for any other similar purpose is guilty of an offence.
Costs and expenses
27(8) Where a judge
(a) in any of the circumstances set out in clause (1)(a), (b) or (c), makes an order for removal and possession against a person under subsection (3); or
(b) convicts a person of an offence under subsection (6) or (7);
the person is liable for payment of the costs of the legal proceedings, including in the case of the order for removal and possession the costs of executing the order, and, where damage results to Crown land from the circumstances upon which the order is based or from the offence upon which the conviction is based, the person is also liable for payment of the expense of repairing the damage and restoring the Crown land to its original condition, and those costs and that expense are recoverable in those proceedings or in any court of competent jurisdiction.
29(2) Where the minister or an officer is satisfied
(a) that a person is in adverse possession or other wrongful possession or occupation of Crown land or is wrongfully using Crown land within the meaning of clause 27(1)(a), (b) or (c), or is contravening a provision of subsection 27(7), or is creating a nuisance or disturbance or committing a trespass on Crown land; and
(b) that failure to remedy the circumstances set out in clause (a) of this subsection forthwith
(i) is likely to cause damage to the Crown land or any thing upon the Crown land, or
(ii) is likely to increase damage already caused by those circumstances to the Crown land or any thing upon the Crown land, or
(iii) constitutes a danger to public safety, or
(iv) is contrary to the public interest;
and the person fails to comply with a written notice, served or left or posted up in accordance with subsection (3), requiring him forthwith to remedy the circumstances and to repair any damage caused by the circumstances to the Crown land or to any thing upon the Crown land and to restore the damaged Crown land or thing to its original condition, the minister or officer may, without further notice or legal process and notwithstanding section 27, forthwith take such steps as he deems necessary to remedy the circumstances and to effect the repair and the restoration.

Sandbag Questions for the Advisory Committee

Dear Advisory Committee:

You have now been offered a critical role to play in determining the future of the special beaches at Victoria Beach for generations to come. A tough position and one the people of Victoria Beach have entrusted you to do on their behalf, in the best interests of the entire community.

Today I am writing to you hoping that you will consider all the facts and endeavor to seek answers to all questions, particularly if they fall outside your particular realm of expertise. To take the time to become well informed about any and all proposals that you are asked to consider before offering any permanent, precedent setting decisions.

Through my reading and research I keep coming back to this quote which is found in our community plan “Recognizing the Past: Embracing the Future Development Plan Framework” from Rural Municipality of Victoria Beach April 2010:

“Victoria Beach has been rated as one of the top 10 freshwater beaches in the world and during engagements; residents identified the health of the beach environment as their priority issue. Erosion and algae blooms require significant attention. Because preservation and management of the natural environment are central to the identity of Victoria Beach, future land use and development decisions should minimize negative impacts on the environment and enhance the natural features of the municipality.” Page 16

It seems logical that when an individual chooses to inhabit property in front of a sand beach owned by the Crown — used extensively by the public community — it must be taken into consideration that there must be limits to what can or cannot be done to protect private property from mother nature and the natural process of erosion. That there must be limitations since some actions to save property may be deemed to adversely effect an entire community by causing change of the beach directly in front of them.  A beach they do not own.

It needs to be firmly and unequivocably recognized that owning property in front of a public sand beach is simply not the same as owning property in front of a rocky, unused and non publically accessed waterfront.  That it comes with added responsibilities and limitations.

With all of the scientific literature I have accessed  it seems logical that revetments, rip raps and stone walls should never be an option in front of a sand beach.

Sandbags need careful scrutiny too.

In an open letter to Victoria Beach, the distinguished professor Pilkey clearly states: ” I would caution against use of experimental or temporary structures. One approach used in SC and NC has been to allow giant sandbags (provided they are removed after a couple of years), but enforcing the removal requirement has proved almost impossible and it turns out sandbags have the same impact on beach loss as concrete seawalls.

Most of the community is not necessarily against sandbags.  The focus rather,  is towards making sure the right sandbags are used.

Here are some questions that need be considered for any sandbag proposal:

Are the sandbags on Municipal, Private or Provincial property?  And once determined, who is directly liable for all decisions thus made?

What are the size of the sandbags?

Are they to be permanent or temporary?

What is the environmental affect as the sandbags decompose?

What are all of the components? (outer and inner)

If any of the property owners along a stretch of beach opt out will this structure be contiguous? (Non contiguous can lead to increased erosion.)

If any of the property owners along this stretch of beach opt out and it is a contiguous structure who is paying for those who opted out?

If it is not a contiguous structure what liability does the municipality incur when there is erosion of private property around the breaks in the sandbag structure?

What process or data will be used to determine that most property owners would find this proposal acceptable?

Do you believe with complete confidence that the greater population of Victoria Beach as a whole agrees that public property should be used, incorporated or altered/destroyed in any efforts made by a private group or consortium for their own needs? (This goes for any proposal incorporating Crown or Municipal land.)

Was an engineer retained or consulted for any sandbag proposal put forth?

Has an engineer been consulted in regards to the effectiveness and impact of placing sand bags on a dynamic beach?

Have drawings or plans been stamped by an engineer when provided?

Are the plans available for the public to see as part of public consultation?

What factors have been considered in ensuring this structure is stable and safe?

What assurances do we have that the sand in the sand bags is reasonably similar to the natural sand of the beach? (For example, color and grain size?)

Has a geologist been consulted?

What is the maximum life expectancy of the bags themselves?

Who will be maintaining these bags?

What assurances do we have that this maintenance will occur?

Who will be checking them?

Who will be paying for the maintenance of these bags?

What written assurances do we have that private cottage owners will be responsible for their maintenance?

Has a lawyer been consulted to find out what the liabilities are with the building of any sand bag wall on public property?

Do the sandbags themselves propose a fire hazard?

Are the susceptible to vandalism?

How is the structure installed and when?

Will any Provincial Crown land be removed or altered prior to sandbagging?

When the sand bags are removed will the cliffs or the beach be damaged?

What are the effects of removing these sandbags?

Who will pay for their removal?

I am well aware that some of these questions are complex however, they seriously need to be considered.

I appreciated the cautious approach will slow the process down however I strongly consider these questions need answers prior to any proposal getting the go ahead. Due to the possible ramification, I would suggest there is adequate time to seek answers, as there is no immediate need to approve any proposal in short order without full due diligence.

The lake and shorelines need your protection like never before.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your effort and considerations.



Please direct your emails and calls to:

Bill Blaike: NDP Minister of Conservation 204-945-3730
Fred Meier: Deputy Minister 204-945-3785

Melnick –
Premier Selinger –

Manitoba Water Stewardship
Box 11 – 200 Saulteaux Crescent, Winnipeg MB R3J 3W3 1-204-945-6398

Greg Dewar, Selkirk MLA

Letter Template for Gov’t and Water Stewardship

Here is a sample letter for your consideration.  Feel free to use or alter any, all or none for your own purposes.  We are often told “I want to write but dont know how to start” so this is merely offered as a place to start.


I am writing to you today as I am very concerned with what is going on at Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. There are proposals on the table to the local council to use public land to allow for massive revetments (stone walls) to be built on our beautiful and well-used public beaches. Public land is to be incorporated into these structures designed to protect a handful of private properties situated on dunes above the beach.

Many scientific studies on erosion show that these structures will destroy the public beaches forever.

As summarised in the ‘Lake Winnipeg Shoreline Management Handbook’ (2001): “Any beach in front of an armoured shoreline will normally diminish in width as the near shore profile erodes and the beach will eventually disappear.” (p.33).

Although community involvement and input has been requested to the Victoria Beach Municipal council they have so far all been rebuked.

It seems, there is no outlet, process or means for action that the community can turn to for aid!

At this moment in time, the Province of Manitoba appears to not have a policy put in place to protect beaches and shorelines.

This needs to change before it is too late!

Environmental groups such as The Lake Winnipeg Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and environmentalists such as Vicki Burns and Dr. Gordon Goldsborough are concerned about developments around the shorelines of Lake Winnipeg. They have written an open letter to the people and government of Manitoba about ceasing development until proper policies are put into place to evaluate the effects of such developments.

“We call on the Government of Manitoba to order a temporary halt to all new developments affecting wetlands and shorelines until it can develop a rational, consistent policy—founded on sound, scientific principles—to ensure the development is done responsibly and sustainably, without compromising the benefits we receive from natural, healthy shorelines and wetlands. And we call on the people of Manitoba to become informed of and to participate actively in the protection of wetlands and natural shorelines, for the benefit of healthy lakes and healthy communities.”

This open letter is signed by Dr. Gordon Goldsborough, University of Manitoba Vicki Burns, Community Foundations of Canada, Dr. Pascal Badiou, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Bruce Smith, Lake Winnipeg Foundation.

In a Winnipeg Free Press newspaper article, dated January 14th, 2011 Dr. Goldsborough of the University of Manitoba stated when discussing the development along the shoreline that the“worst examples are when developers put rock “rip rap” on shorelines for protection or put in artificial channels for their developments such as ones near Gimli and Victoria Beach.”

Furthermore, a documentary is to be aired March 17th on The Nature of Things on CBC that is examining how the province has been neglecting the protection of its renowned lake.

In other words, if the ongoing mismanagement of Lake Winnipeg is allowed to continue, the environment will be irreparably destroyed.

This cannot be allowed to happen.

Ultimately, it is those in your positions whom are either going to be blamed or applauded by posterity and the people of this province.

I am urging you to investigate what is taking place at Victoria Beach so that precedents are not set that will affect the Lake and its pristine beach communities forever.

This is your chance to make history and have a real effect to insure that proper standards, processes and criteria are determined for all future development on one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world!

And with an election fast approaching, many eyes will be searching for those who consider our environment (and Lake Winnipeg) a critical piece of our future and not just an after thought. Actions will always speak louder than words.

You can contact Victoria Beach council for more information on this crisis at the following:

Karin Boyd

Bruce Morrison

Tom Farrell

Kathy McKibbin

Penny McMorris

R. M. of Victoria Beach

I sincerely hope you investigate this situation and the gravity of its consequences and take action to save the beaches of Lake Winnipeg from irreparable harm for generations to come.

It is in your hands.

Yours truly,



You can send it to the following:

Ombudsman : You have to write the ombudsman (no emails)

750 – 500 Portage Avenue Winnipeg, MB R3C 3X1

mla for vb (selkirk)

Premier Greg Selinger

Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen

Dr. Jon Gerrard Liberal Leader

To find your local MLA:

To find your local Member of Parliament: d=Current&Language=E

Contact Water Stewardship:

Manitoba Water Stewardship
Box 11 – 200 Saulteaux Crescent, Winnipeg MB R3J 3W3 1-204-945-6398

Minister of Water Stewardship: The Honorable Christine Melnick
314 Legislative Building 450 Broadway Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8
Phone: 204-945-1133 Fax: 204-948-2684

Deputy Minister’s Office
Mr. Don Norquay Phone: 204-945-0982 Fax: 204-948-2519

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