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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- WBFN Band has been able to build new housing along the new road beside the lake for its residents.
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