The Page – August 19, 2020

A taxpayer in Big Lakes County says, “You know, we spend all this money and effort trying to get people to come and enjoy our region, then we won’t go the last mile to look after them.” Well, that’s more or less what he said, anyway.
Although it’s the middle of summer, the topic was ice fishing on Lesser Slave Lake.
In particular, ice fishing in front of Joussard.
According to local information, the Driftpile First Nation makes a few dollars by charging people to use a plowed road.
They keep the road clear, across the reserve, and out onto a favourite fishing spot on the lake.
Meanwhile, at every other access point on Lesser Slave Lake, as far as we know anyway, it is entirely up to local people to make their own ice roads to any place they want to fish. This is good business for outfits which sell tracked vehicles, side by sides, snowmobiles and anything that can get through snowfalls and drifts. It’s not so good for city folks who may not have such gear.
In fact, this is one reason why winter ice fishing is so popular – the amount of gear needed is minimal.
Some warm winter clothes. A very inexpensive rod and reel set. Some tiny hooks. Maybe an axe to chop through a hole someone else drilled, or a hand powered ice auger to make your own. No boat. No hut. No pricey gear of all kinds.
So every year, more people take up the sport. Notwithstanding what you don’t really need, more shanties appear every year.
Portable huts are everywhere. More city folk are coming. And yup, getting stuck in snow.
Over the years, many people have tried to set up some sort of scheme to pay people to clear an ice road out to favourite spots. It never worked. Some people have volunteered, like Vic Plamondon, formerly of Joussard. Some people, like former County councillor Guy L’Hereux, also of Joussard, says he doesn’t mind plowing a road, “But I only go out to my ice hut. That’s it.”
Which leaves about another 125 huts in the drifts many times.
There once was talk of Big Lakes County taking on the job.
After all, this is tourism business and a recreation opportunity.
The story goes, somebody whispered “Oooo the liability. What if somebody falls through the ice? Ooooo.” And the councillors of the day ran for the hills.
As everybody knows, just building and looking after any road is already a liability. How about County water treatment? One slip and millions to be paid out. Even paving a road just makes people go faster. Ooooo. Such liability! Maybe better to have potholes, mud and dirt and possibly, not even that. Horse and buggy is much safer.
Anyway, there’s a thought for budget meetings. Buy a plow or hire some locals. Do Faust, Joussard, Kinuso and maybe even Grouard. See how it all turns out.

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We don’t know about you, but we’re worried about all these schools opening in a few weeks. There are reports from Ontario that in all the cases of Covid reported so far, it still amounts to just one percent of the population. Some people have said the actual infection rate is four percent, just because of how the testing was done. Either way, it means a whole bunch more people will probably soon be infected. Some won’t know it. Some will get some sniffles. And sadly, some will die. Without sounding callous, one way or the other it is probable just about everybody is going be infected at some point in time. If reports are true, it is entirely possible some will get it more than once. Just like the regular seasonal winter flu that comes around every year. Should schools open? We think so. Our entire economy and way of life is in trouble if we don’t get back to some kind of “normal” whatever that might be. Are we worried things might get really bad? You bet. Either way, there is no good choice. So we’re stocking up on soup, flour, yeast and toilet paper once again. And crossing our fingers.
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Speaking of fingers crossed, these days our plans for getting ahead is just trying to stay even!
And frankly, that isn’t working out very well.
Our neighbour is the same way.
The other day he told us he was way more interested in getting “Yes” from his banker than from the girls he used to sweet talk.

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