Faster fine process for water pollution possible as province responds to Winnipeg sewage spill

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Manitoba’s Environment and Climate Change Minister has announced that the provincial government is investigating how “mechanisms such as fines” can be used to intervene sooner for incidents that may harm waterways. 

Minister Tracy Schmidt’s announcement comes just weeks after Winnipeg struggled with a burst pipe and bypass repair that resulted in more than 228 million litres of raw sewage being deposited into the Red River in February. 

Changes to Manitoba’s Environment Act are coming, Schmidt said. 

“The recent sewage spill in the City of Winnipeg raised concerns about how we can better protect our water. Our government is strengthening our ability to protect lakes and rivers for Manitobans,” Schmidt announced in a statement.  

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Schmidt added that the Environment Act only allows environment officers to lay charges “after a lengthy investigation and court process, delaying quick intervention.” 

“We want to be able to step in right away when there are issues with water treatment,” she said. 

During Winnipeg’s challenge to repair the pipes crossing the Red River near Fort Garry Bridge, City Councillor Russ Wyatt put forward a motion calling on the province to fine the city $4 for every litre spilled, which would have totalled more than $900 million.  

“We know what the city has done. The city must now be held accountable,” Wyatt told local media.   

In her announcement, Schmidt also added that there are currently no requirements for licensed authorities to notify the public, First Nations and other affected communities when severe incidents occur. When the sewage leak first began in Winnipeg, Chiefs of the Treaty One Nations released a statement that raised concerns over the initial communication of the incident.  

Lastly, Schmidt noted her commitment to facilitating funding for improvements to Winnipeg’s wastewater infrastructure.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Both Berendsen V Ontario and Ernst V Encana, launched legal action as all they wanted was clean water.
    Berendsen settled on ND Clause , 4 days before the doors of the S of C opened; Ernst was thwarted by Justice Abella at the S of C who labelled Ernst as vexatious litigant with no factum and supported by Head of the S of C

    In Heighington et al v Ontario, we ( 48 lower socio economic, culturally diverse families bonded with no signed agreements) to write case law in Canada as it applies to waste on/in land.

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