SERA Annual General Meeting Update

AGM August 2022 Update

SERA held its AGM virtually on Aug. 10. We thank our community for attending and having a very thoughtful conversation. If you missed it, please get in touch with your road president for a recap.

Your representatives are:
  • President, Chair and Director: Rico Bertschinger – Gold Point Road Association
  • Vice Chair: Eric Jensen – Welcome Channel Road Corporation
  • Treasurer: Allan Thordarson – 1133406 Ontario Inc.
  • Secretary and Director: Bruce McConnell – Northern Peninsula Road Association
  • Director: Rick Dobel – 1133406 Ontario Inc.
  • Director: Peter Murdock – Northern Peninsula Road Association
  • Director: Harry Salmajaavi – Northern Peninsula Road Association
  • Director: Salem Woodrow – Welcome Channel Road Corporation
South End Road Association

Washagamis Bay First Nation elects new Chief and council

SERA community members,

On August 16, the Washagamis Bay First Nation held elections in which a new Chief and Council was decided. We have sent our congratulations to Chief Vernon Copenace and his council.

The SERA board is in communication with the new Chief and Council and looks forward to restarting negotiations to achieve resolution on the current road access situation. We will provide updates as appropriate.

As we progress through our relationship building with the new Chief and Council, it is important that we all remain aligned on our desired outcome. We are optimistic that Chief Copenance and the Washagamis Bay community will be amenable to returning access to everyone, but we are aware it will take time and patience. In turn, we ask for your continued patience.

As we approach our member AGMs, we are sure you will have questions about our negotiations strategy and ongoing actions leading up to this new Chief and Council. Please contact your road president if you have questions or concerns.

The SERA board has updated its website. We encourage you to subscribe to the mailing list to receive additional information. You can subscribe on the website or let us know and we’ll add you to the mailing list.

SERA Road History and Position

Reserve Road History Background and Benefits to the Washagamis Bay First Nation

In 1977/1978 the original main road through the Reserve to the southern boundary was being constructed by Manitou Properties (Kenora) Ltd., a Kenora based real estate developer. (“the Developer”).  The Developer received the required authorization from the Washagamis Bay First Nation (“WBFN”) Band and the Crown, then known as The Department of Indian & Northern Affairs. The cost of the road construction in 1977/1978 was estimated to be $105,000.  The $105,000 of funds to build the road was part of the original purchase price paid by each of the original lot owners located on Hansen’s Bay on Lake of the Woods.

The Hansen’s Bay lot owners formed a Road Association that today is known as Welcome Channel Road Corporation (“WCRC”).  WCRC was to represent their interests in the main road through the reserve and their road on private land that connected to the reserve road.  The sole purpose of the main road through the reserve at this time was to provide road access to cottage lot owners at the southern boundary of the Reserve.

Due to the Developer‘s financial demise and failure to construct the road to the appropriate standard, the Hansen’s Bay lot owners  provided  the equipment and materials to complete and upgrade the road to a safe standard at their own cost.  This was done with the permission of the WBFN Band.

In the late 1980’s and into the mid 1990’s the WBFN Band agreed to provide road access to 100 +/- additional cottage lot owners located in the same community area as the WCRC lot owners.  These new lot owners were represented by three additional road associations known as the Northern Peninsula Road Association (“NPRA”), the Gold Point Road Association(“GPRA”) and 1133406 Ontario Inc. (“1133”). Each of these road associations entered into a road access agreement with the WBFN Band.  These road associations, along with WCRC, have paid annual road access fees to the WBFN Band in accordance with the terms of their respective contracts each and every year since these contracts were signed.

In 2013 the South End Road Association (“SERA”) was formally established. SERA was formed as an umbrella organization to represent the four road associations of WCRC, NPRA, GPRA and 1133. The original purpose of SERA was to coordinate with the WBFN Band and the Washagamis Bay Cottagers Association (“WBCA”) to provide maintenance, address handling safety issues and coordinate upgrades to the main road running through the reserve. The main road runs north -south from the entrance to the WBFN down to the southern boundary of the WBFN.  The WBCA is an organization that was formed to represent the approximate 200 +/- individuals that entered into long term land lease agreements with WBFN Band and who built cottages on Lilly Pad Bay and Poplar Bay on WBFN land.

During the first decade of the Reserve main road, the WCRC paid for the cost of the road maintenance. Later, under the signed road access contracts with members of the SERA and the WBCA,  the WBFN Band was responsible for maintaining the road. However, the road was not maintained to a safe standard and members of SERA and WBCA assisted in maintaining the reserve road so that it was passable.

Starting in 2011 the four Road Associations that are represented by SERA, in conjunction with the WBCA, took over the responsibility for the maintenance of the road with the concurrence of the WBFN Band. The WBFN Band agreed to contribute a portion of the annual road access fees and the annual lease fees that they were collecting towards this initiative.  In addition, members of the SERA Community contributed many hours of volunteer time and effort to maintaining the road and making it safer for everyone.  SERA members also made significant voluntary monetary contributions that were above and beyond the mandatory annual road access fees.  These additional amounts allowed the road to not only be maintained but also greatly improved.  These voluntary monetary contributions were used for such things as ditching, culvert installation, gravelling, dust control, etc.

Benefits to the Washagamis Bay First Nation

The building of the road through the WBFN to its southern boundary facilitated economic opportunities that provided many benefits to the WBFN Band including:

  1. The development of 200 +/- leased lots on Lily Pad Bay and Poplar Bay during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The development of these lease lots provided a large upfront lump sum payment and an ongoing annual payment. In fact, one of the SERA Community members originally mapped out the lots on Poplar Bay and submitted it to the WBFN Band as a way they could generate income. A SERA member was also responsible for bringing Ontario Hydro on board to service the new development.
  2. The road access contracts signed with the WBFN in the 1980’s and early 1990’s by the four southern road associations residing in the SERA community at the southern boundary of the WBFN has provided an ongoing annual road access fee being paid to the WBFN Band. At the time of development of these private roads, the WBFN had a heavy construction company which the SERA associations used to build their roads, providing employment and financial benefit to the Band.
  3. WBFN Band was able to access the southern portion of the Reserve which allowed access to selling the gravel from their gravel pit, conducting logging activities, etc.  The gravel from the WBFN gravel pits and Crown owned gravel pits in the area were also used to build the branch roads required to develop the leased lots on Lily Pad bay and Poplar Bay.
  4. WBFN Band has been able to build new housing along the new road beside the lake for its residents.

Questions? Contact us.

SERA: Reserve Road Usage Requires Approval

It has come to the attention of the South End Road Association (SERA) and its member boards that recently there have been private road members gaining access to their cottages through the reserve road without previous approval from Andy Graham.  The SERA board was informed of actions by some road members of what can be considered illegal entry and usage of the reserve road.

The Band is now conducting a review of all access and departures through the checkpoint over the last week to ensure there were no additional entries without proper permission.  More transgressions of the permit system will likely be found and communicated to SERA and individual road associations in the coming days.

These transgressions have likely angered the FN Band, who may now think that our members do not respect or understand the Ontario Health Orders and the established checkpoint system.

We are all concerned and frustrated by the road closures, but it is worth restating what we know as the facts today.

  • The Ontario Health order has not been rescinded yet.
  • The Band has the right to set up a checkpoint and restrict road access under the Pandemic Action Plan
  • The Band Police and the OPP have the authority to charge any unauthorised members for trespassing.
  • The Band views the Road Associations as responsible for individual actions of its members.

The consequences of additional unauthorized use of the band roads could be significant.

We ask that you not try and even contemplate the idea of using any Band roads, either coming in or leaving unless you have a permanent resident pass or previous approval from Andy Graham.  The band considers usage both going in and going out to and from your properties and anyone you may visit as trespassing.  Please do not approach the checkpoint with the idea “lets just try and see what happens…”  – hoping that you can gain access from an inattentive security guard.  It reflects badly on your judgment.  That is taking advantage of a situation that will not be helpful to reopening the road.

We are all anxious to get back to our properties, but in the interim, adherence to the set-out rules is critical to us getting back to our properties.

Washagamis Bay First Nation – Urgent Community Notice – COVID-19 Lockdown Lifted

Washgamis Bay First Nation

IMPORTANT: This notice only applies to full-time residents, and there will be no additional road access requests until the week of June 22.

June 9, 2020

Urgent Community Notice – COVID-19 Lockdown Lifted

Please be advised that upon further review by Chief and Council of the current COVID 19 cases and the overall risk to community members, the Lockdown that began on June 8th has been lifted effective immediately.

What does this mean?

  • Washagamis Bay First Nation will return to the restrictions in place prior to the June 8th Lockdown. This means community members and permanent cottagers will be allowed to leave the territory once per day.
  • In order to further protect the community, absolutely no Non-Residents will be allowed into the community until further notice unless they are deemed essential workers.
  • As well, there will be no additional access granted to the road for seasonal cottagers until at further notice.

All restrictions will be reviewed by Chief and Council the week of June 22nd.

The Chief & Council and the Emergency Preparedness Team will continue to monitor the situation and will may implement additional measures and restrictions if there is an increased risk to community members. Again, community and band members are asked to do their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.


Chief & Council of Washagamis Bay First Nation

Download notice as PDF.

Road Work Update June 2019

With the seasonal weight restrictions removed road work has begun! With over 100 loads of gravel being laid down and spread across the roads. Please be aware and be cautious around the belly dump trucks, while they are dumping and travelling down the roads. Please slow down when driving over freshly laid gravel to avoid flying rocks and damage to your tires. This work is anticipated to last 2-3 weeks in June.
Once the gravel has all been laid down and graded, we will have dust suppression applied by the end of June!
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