Right in the centre - Governments do some really stupid things sometimes!


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Yes, governments do some really stupid things and they do so at our expense.

Manitoba Hydro, in anticipation of a potentially increased demand for electricity, planned an east side BiPole III hydro line up to 60 years ago. They got pushed off that idea by a half-assed plan, cooked up by God-knows-who, that a hydro line down the east side of the lakes would be harmful to the environment. The problem is that there has been a Hydro line and road in that area for quite a while now. It carries electricity to several east side communities as the diesel generators were, or are, being phased out. That east side line includes a road that is used by skidoos, quads, hunters, trappers and general travel. It is used as an alternative to winter roads when the roads won’t carry the weight of freight. The bald eagles nest on the towers. The impact of that road/line on the environment is minimal. The benefit is great.

The NDP government got duped by some First Nation leaders, some environmentalists and by a whole herd of people in Winnipeg who have no clue about survival or the environment in Manitoba’s north. That ill-informed reasoning cost us a set-back in Hydro’s finances that we will never fully recover from.

Another stupid thing that the province and the City of Winnipeg did was build Investors Group Field at the U of M. Bad location, poor parking and a real test for the mythical rapid transit system. The place was shoddily built and the repair bills and cost over runs are impacting taxpayers to perhaps as much as $200 million. 

One good thing that happened was that in the municipal election, the opening of Portage and Main to pedestrian traffic referendum went down to defeat. Even young people who live and work in the city saw this as stupid idea. Spend millions on opening an intersection that is one of the coldest and windiest places on the continent? Sure that makes a lot of sense. Thankfully, a friend of mine, Councillor Jeff Browaty stood against the idea. By the way, he was re-elected by a large vote in his ward.

If I was a member of the Portage la Prairie Chamber of Commerce, I would be hopping mad that the overpass that funnels east bound traffic into Portage is still not fixed. If we called in the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, it could be fixed in 24 hours but no, we have to take 10 years to fix a broken bridge. Picture this, the MLA from Portage and Education Minister, Ian Wishart can’t get it done. Premier Pallister, who is from Portage can’t get it done. Come on guys, just fix the bridge. How complicated can it be? Will waiting save money? Do bridges go on sale in November? Who in the Highways department is dragging their feet on this deal anyway?

I guess we need more patience. It only took 100 years to build a road for the people at Shoal Lake, where Winnipeg gets its water from. My mother nearly died of typhoid around 1920 because of bad water in Winnipeg, so a good water supply was needed. I get that. Maybe Winnipeg should have been made to take their water from Lake Winnipeg. It was closer. Oops! That wouldn’t have worked, because that is where Winnipeg did (and still does) dump their sewage.

That leads to another stupid thing governments do and that is dump sewage in the rivers, when they could use it to irrigate farm land. I did the calculations a few years ago and the volume of water from the pre-expansion days of the Neepawa hog plant would put about two inches of water on a section of land. Would that not make sense instead of spending $20 million of money from HyLife, the province and the Town of Neepawa to build the sewage plant? What the Town and HyLife have is a great system, don’t get me wrong, but when an alternative system could have been built for a fraction of the cost, why was it not done?

We are short of money for infrastructure, housing and roads because governments sometimes do stupid things.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.