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THE head of an organization that represents property owners threatened with the loss of road access to their Kenora-area cottages says he’s hopeful a resolution with the local First Nation can soon be reached.

In a notice issued Tuesday, Obashkaandagaang Chief Marilyn Sinclair alerted members of the South End Road Association (comprised of the Northern Peninsula Road Association, Welcome Channel Road Association, 1133406 Ontario Inc., and Gold Point Road Association) their access through the First Nation will be terminated July 16.

The letter from the Washagamis Bay First Nation regarding road access.

The letter from the Washagamis Bay First Nation regarding road access.

After that date, cottagers would be required to access their properties by boat.

On Friday, South End president Rico Bertschinger said several attempts had been made to reach Obashkaandagaang (Washagamis Bay) leadership but with no response.

"We sent a letter to the band and council asking, ‘Can we sit down and discuss? Obviously, we’re missing something that’s made you upset. Can we simply sit down and work with your concerns?’ And we’ve never had any communication back," Bertschinger said.

Meanwhile, an article on local news website Kenora Online says the First Nation has asked Marvin Sinclair "to act as their lead negotiator during talks with property owners south of the community."

Sinclair attributes the impending closure of McKenzie Portage Road to safety concerns, citing speeding, increased frequency of traffic, as well as the movement of large machinery.

"There’s been concerns in the past about traffic and speed, where we did discuss two years ago and were fully sympathetic to what their concerns were — recognizing we’re just the south end of the road with about a hundred cottages," acknowledged Bertschinger, adding cottagers with leased lots also use the access.

"We all share the same road, so I’m not sure who comes and goes... (However), on July 17, the leased lots will then have access to the road, through a separate agreement that they have."

Bertschinger said there is a 40-km/h speed limit sign posted on the section of the road operated by the First Nation.

"We recognize that we need to be a partnership, because they’ve granted us the ability to use the road, which we’ve fully appreciated and always have wanted to work together, even to the point of stopping cars and handing out information pamphlets, reminding the people of the speed in the community and those kind of things," he said.

Despite the perceived challenges with communication, Bertschinger said the matter is not confrontational.

"We are really sympathetic and we want to work towards an amicable solution for all. And I’m being sincere with that."

Sinclair did not respond to Free Press requests for comment.

Obashkaandagaang is located some 15 kilometres southwest of Kenora, along the shores of Lake of the Woods.

nadya.pankiw@freepress.mb.ca