Two Lake Manitoba farmers who were at the centre of a protest at the Portage Diversion last week said in a statement Monday night they’re relieved the province has dropped the case against them, an announcement said Monday evening.
Joe Johnson and Kevin Yuill had expected their day in court today to oppose an extension of a court injunction that ordered them not to interfere with the operation of the Portage Diversion.
Now they say they will lead a rally at the legislature today, instead.
"We are relieved we don’t have any charges against us," Kevin Yuill said in the statement released from the Lake Manitoba Flood Rehabilitation Committee. "We made the government back off and more people in the province are now aware of our situation."
The two were among a group of farmers who blockaded the diversion over compensation they claim they are still owed for the 2011 flood. They want the channel outlet moved at the north end of Lake Manitoba to forestall further flooding.
The embattled farmers called for a rally at the Manitoba legislature Tuesday at 10 a.m.
"We want to keep the pressure on because nothing has changed. We want compensation, the channel at the north end and the diversion fixed up," Yuill said.
Earlier, the Selinger government called a 12-hour protest at the Portage Diversion last Monday "unacceptable" and "irresponsible," claiming if it had lasted any longer, communities to the east might have been flooded.
Mere hours after a court injunction was obtained to remove the trespassers, a surge of water arrived at the diversion's reservoir that could have had dire consequences for the RM of Portage la Prairie and the municipalities of Cartier, Headingley and St. François Xavier, officials said after the blockade ended.
Within 30 hours of opening the diversion this time, a heavy flow of water breached a dike half a mile wide and flooded 150 acres of Yuill‘s winter wheat crop and some land owned by other farmers, the statement said.
The statement said the deal to drop the case was the result of negotiations between the farmers and the province.