Local News Briefs
Outreach program seeks funding
The three-year-old Outreach Patrol program is strapped for cash and could cease by the end of summer if it can’t find more funding. Ten staff members rotate through shifts six days a week to keep inebriated people off the streets. The program lessens the workload of fire paramedics, the Downtown BIZ told the Winnipeg Free Press, as the patrols can take intoxicated people to their homes or to shelters like the Main Street Project. The BIZ planned to approach city council on March 11 for $100,000 to continue the program, which was previously funded by the province, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, the Main Street Project and the BIZ itself. Patrols pick up 3,000 people a year.
$2M to help exploited young people
Facilities that help sexually exploited youth will have more provincial funding after family services minister Gord Mackintosh announced Manitoba will contribute another $2 million to help children get off the streets. The money will assist two agencies in Winnipeg and one in rural Manitoba. Mackintosh said Manitoba spends $8 million a year on these initiatives and that the Winnipeg StreetReach program has helped over 500 youth since it began last year. A Thompson version of the program has also been launched, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.
Man arrested after pointing laser at police chopper
A 26-year-old man was arrested early last Thursday morning for pointing a laser beam at the Winnipeg Police Service helicopter, which hit the pilot directly in his eyes. The police team tracked the laser beam to the 200 block of Toronto Street, and a man was arrested five minutes after the incident. He is charged with assault with a weapon and could face more charges under the Aeronautics Act. A police spokeswoman said that even if it was intended to be a prank, shining lasers or bright lights at any aircraft can blind or distract flight crew, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.
Provincial bed bug strategy to launch
Bed bugs are a hot topic in Manitoba and the provincial government will launch a strategy to spread bed bug information and to help community-based organizations manage them. Healthy living minister Jim Rondeau announced the goal is to establish a province-wide approach to tackling the problem. The strategy will provide better access to mattress and box-spring covers, insect monitors and special laundry bags and will focus on education – brochures, posters, fact sheets and a website will be launched to help people recognize, prevent and respond to infestations. The province has set aside $770,000 for the first year of the program. CBC News reported that mayor Sam Katz is pleased to support the initiative.
Hydro hearings continue
The Public Utilities Board’s hearings into a proposed Manitoba Hydro rate hike continue, but may last for a long time, according to some groups that question Hydro’s business. Both the Manitoba Society of Seniors and the Manitoba branch of the Consumers Association of Canada are unsure why a rate hike is needed. Hydro wishes to increase its rates by 2.9 per cent and then again by up to 3.5 per cent over the next 10 years, which would cover infrastructure renewal and future expansion, CBC News reported. The Public Utilities Board must approve the increase, but most hearings have focused on other issues on Hydro’s plate, such as selling power to the U.S. and the whistle-blower report that rocked headlines over the past few years.
Published in Volume 65, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 17, 2011)