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MHCA seeking talks with province, Ottawa on outlet channels project

The MHCA will be seeking discussions with senior provincial and federal offices about the progress to date on the Lake Manitoba-Lake St. Martin outlet channels project.

The discussions were on the agenda this week at the MHCA’s Executive Committee meeting, where MHCA President Chris Lorenc briefed committee members on the meeting September 10 with Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler. The outlet channels project is awaiting federal approval to proceed; the federal government says it is awaiting completion of meaningful consultations with the First Nations governments with territorial interest in lands affected by the project.

The Executive Committee was also told this week was the deadline for submissions to the province for quarry rehabilitation projects. The Quarry Rehabilitation Program is just being restarted after it was suspended in 2018, during a review by the department and the provincial Auditor General’s Office.

Projects submitted were to be approved by September 15; the province announced that some $6.7 million was available this year to fund rehabilitation of spent pits and quarries.

The MHCA has continuing concerns about the program’s future, Lorenc noted. The provincial government has not stated unequivocally it will be continued beyond 2020. Further, the province says it is up to the private landowner, where the quarry or pits exists, to decide whether the contractor selected for the rehabilitation is COR™ certified.

“Frankly – with few exceptions – any project funded with public dollars should only be awarded to contractors who are COR™ certified. Safety as a priority for employers and their workforce is not dependent on size. Requiring COR™ certification should be provincial policy across the board. The existing threshold of$100,000 beyond which COR is required, is dated,”  Lorenc said. “This work is proceeding under a provincial program, and funded through a quarry rehab account built from aggregate extraction levies. It shouldn’t matter that a private landowner is doing the hiring of a contractor.”

Other items discussed at the Executive Committee included:

  • Canada West Foundation’s report on the economic return from trade transportation investment, sponsored by the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), Business Council of Canada and Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is expected in November.
  • The CCA has identified a company to undertake an analysis of the environmental benefits of strategic core infrastructure investment. MHCA expects to be part of the steering committee overseeing the development of the project.
  • Manitoba Infrastructure has committed to reviewing unexpended Highways Capital dollars to balance project tenders across the heavy construction industry
  • MHCA President Chris Lorenc presented the industry’s recommendations for a review to ensure recycled concrete is used in road building, to Winnipeg City Council’s Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works Committee September 16. (See story).