Many Grenfell Beach cabin owners are puzzled about the recent notice they received advising them that their property lease will be increasing by as much as 800 per cent.
The buildings are located on Sakimay First Nations reserve land, where a rent review is performed every five years, and adjustments made as necessary. Residents have yet to be given an explanation as to why the most recent increase, which must be paid by January 31, is so dramatic. One cabin owner stated that Sakimay does not provide enough services to warrant such an extreme lease increase. "I would like to know what the assessment is based on," he said. "We have no services - zero. We even maintain our own roads - snow removal, gravel, we have our own street lights, we have our own garbage."
He also stated that they received no warning ahead of time, and that it came as a complete shock.
Another cabin owner told the Leader Post that the lease from his Crooked Lake cabin is going from $578 to $4,005 annually.
Sakimay Chief Lynn Acoose released a statement last week to address the public's concerns.
"Sakimay First Nations has reserve lands at Crooked Lake, and some of those lands have been leased to cottagers since as early as 1983," Acoose explained. "The leases provide that rents will be adjusted every five years. Sakimay is presently dealing with rent reviews that would apply to some lessees. We are doing so in good faith and have every intention of complying with the leases. We respect our obligations to both our Nation members and our tenants."
Chief Acoose acknowledged that lessees could face significant increases, and noted that some, but not all, of the affected lessees have raised concerns with Sakimay or with the Department of Indian Affairs about the proposed increases.
"We value our relationship with our lessees, and will listen to their concerns in a respectful manner," Acoose stated. "However, we do not intend to debate the issue publicly. These are private matters.
"Further, a lawyer acting for some of our lessees has now publicly threatened to take this matter to court before we have even had a chance to meet with his clients. We find that regrettable, and remain hopeful that we can resolve this issue amicably."
There have been discussions of meetings between cabin owners and the Sakimay Land Authority, but according to cabin owners, nothing has been set as of yet.
Roughly 340 cabin owners are affected by the increase.