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Budget hoopla misses outlet channel support

Funding for outlet channels on Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin gets significant shot in the arm

An important development for rural Manitobans has flown under the radar in the recent federal budget.

Hidden amid budget initiatives such as new First Nations funding and a beefed-up Canada Child Benefit was $248 million for the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project, which aims to prevent flooding and better direct surface water in the province.

Keystone Agricultural Producers president Dan Mazier said he was a bit surprised at the lack of response or even notice.

“Really, I didn’t hear anyone say much of anything about it,” said Mazier. He also noted this isn’t theoretical funds that may or may not arrive in the end.

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“Actual funding that is approved and coming, it’s long overdue, but it’s there and it really stood out to me,” he said. “That impacts agriculture in a big way, as well as the people who live around the lakes.”

The previous federal government had also pledged to help fund the channels, but had committed only $165 million to the megaproject.

“We talk lots about water in Manitoba and this is a big positive for us and for the whole province,” Mazier said.

Money promised to assist Saskatchewan with dams and other water control structures, while also transferring federally owned dams to that province’s control, will also have positive effects downstream in Manitoba.

“We know where that water ends up,” Mazier said.

Support is also promised in the 2016 federal budget for transboundary waterways and the bodies that help govern them.

“I would think that would benefit organizations like the Assiniboine River Basin Initiative and the Joint International Commission,” Mazier said.

The federal budget also laid out plans for an additional $30 million in agriculture funding over the next six years, specifically aimed at supporting research and innovation in advanced genomics.

This will allow for investment in specialized scientific equipment and expertise so Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada can accelerate DNA analysis and digital recording of the department’s collection of over 17 million physical specimens of insects, plants, fungi, bacteria and nematodes.

About the author

Reporter

Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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