Local News Briefs

Winnipeg seeing organic food boom

Changes in major grocery stores in Winnipeg are proof of a growing demand for organic foods, reported the Winnipeg Free Press. Canada Safeway, Real Canadian Superstore and Sobeys have expanded their organic sections in recent years due to an increased interest in healthy foods from their customers. Vita Health Fresh Market, an all-organic, Winnipeg-based grocery chain recently opened their sixth and largest store in Westwood. Growing demand for organic food has brought down prices as grocery stores try to woo customers with competitive prices. To be declared organic, produce must be grown on land that has been pesticide- and fertilizer-free for five years, and meat must come from animals who ate organic feed and were not given hormones or antibiotics.

Goodbye city-owned arena

Mayor Sam Katz announced plans to close three city arenas while renovating two others, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. The East End Community Centre will undergo $9 million in renovations, including the addition of a third sheet of ice. Once the project is complete, the Roland Michener Arena will shut its doors for good. Similarly, the Vimy Arena and Old Exhibition Arena will close after $17 million in renovations are complete on the Garden City Community Centre. A 2010 report declared city-owned arenas were in a “crisis state” and in dire need of repair to the tune of $80 million. With the current plan, the city, the province and the arenas themselves will each pay for one third the cost of renovations.

PAYS not paying off

Manitoba Hydro’s Pay As You Save (PAYS) program could use some major improvements, CBC reported. The program involves estimating how much money will be saved by upgrading to a more energy-efficient furnace, then applying those savings to the customer’s loan payments for the upgrade. In theory, the homeowner would end up paying nothing for the upgrade. However, people with mid-efficiency furnaces do not qualify. And some people who do qualify end up not getting enough money from Manitoba Hydro to cover the full cost of the upgrade. David Chomiak, the minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro, said improvements to the program will be made.

Traffic tickets costing taxpayers

Winnipeg police are putting in overtime to fill ticket quotas, according to CBC. The Winnipeg Police Service’s Project Drive hoped to see $1 million dollars in revenue from traffic fines and issued a one ticket per shift policy for officers last year. Wise Up Winnipeg’s Todd Dube filed a Freedom of Information request after learning about the policy and discovered that police worked 627 overtime shifts for traffic enforcement between June 2012 and November 2012. Those hours cost $860,000. The union that represents Winnipeg police is upset those hours are not being spent enforcing other types of crime prevention. Coun. Scott Fielding, who chairs council’s protection and community services committee and wants more police on the streets enforcing traffic, said officers should be managed differently.

Published in Volume 67, Number 21 of The Uniter (February 28, 2013)

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