Local News Briefs

Water for reserves coming

The Conservative government is backing a Liberal motion that will see northern Manitoba reserves receive clean, running water by spring 2012. According to a July report, nearly 40 per cent of water and sewer plants on reserves are so troubled they pose risks to human health, the Winnipeg Free Press reported. “We are all in agreement the current situation is unacceptable,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan. Liberal Leader Bob Rae introduced the motion. However, it will cost $690 million over the next decade to bring sanitation standards up to speed on Manitoba reserves.

Ailing sewage plant returns to normal

Bacteria levels at the South End Water Pollution Control Centre are back to normal, the Winnipeg Free Press reports. On Oct. 7, the city reported bacteria that consume and treat organic waste had inexplicably died off. That caused the plant to release 50 million to 60 million litres of partially treated sewage into the Red River every day, leading to elevated levels of E. coli and ammonia in the river. City engineers said recent test samples of discharge from the plant contained three to nine parts of E. coli bacteria per 100 millilitres, which is below the E. coli concentrations in the Red River itself, and a sign levels have returned to normal.

Police roll out yet another crime plan

The Winnipeg Police Service says it will reduce violent crimes to specific targets by 2014, the Canadian Press reports. Last week, police chief Keith McCaskill said the service is aiming to reduce assaults by nine per cent and sexual assaults and robberies by three per cent by 2014. To do so, the strategy promises more officers on foot patrol, a new database to help police track violent criminals and an operational review of the force to ensure that resources are directed where they are needed most. Most of the new foot patrols will be focused on the downtown and other high-crime areas, McCaskill said. Winnipeg has experienced a record-setting 35 homicides this year.

Winnipeg to transit users: pay up for rapid transit

Winnipeg will become the first city in Canada to increase bus fare rates to fund rapid transit development, the Winnipeg Free Prees reported last week. On Nov. 16, city council voted on a last-minute motion to add 20 cents to a planned five-cent transit fare hike in 2012. The increase is to cover part of the cost of extending the city’s first rapid transit line to Bison Drive near the University of Manitoba. The move means regular fare will increase by five cents on Jan. 1 and another 20 cents on June 1. The plan has caused much controversy with critics charging the move unfairly targets people of lesser means who rely on transit, including new immigrants, seniors and single mothers. However, the province must also sign off on the plan, as it determines the level of subsidy to Winnipeg Transit, the Winnipeg Free Press said.

Published in Volume 66, Number 13 of The Uniter (November 23, 2011)

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