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Farmers block Portage Diversion channel

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Lake Manitoba farmers are refusing to move their equipment or get out of the Portage Diversion even after the province threatened to open the floodgates and wash away the equipment this afternoon.

"They’re going to wash some people away if they do that," RM Portage la Prairie farmer Kevin Yuill said from a cellphone in the diversion, located just south of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Portage, beside the Assiniboine River.

"We’re not moving. Our frustration is nobody has even come to talk to us. It’s just typical bullying. Just like 2011 when they flooded us out and didn’t care."

At least four tractors were parked in the diversion channel this morning, said Yuill.

The farmers are upset that the province has not constructed a permanent larger outlet to get water out of the north end of Lake Manitoba, and that the government has not fully compensated farmers and area residents for flood losses suffered in 2011.

"This area wasn’t a flood plain before they made changes to protect Winnipeg," Yuill said.

"When you direct water to save yourself, you should pay your neighbour compensation. We need some reassurance the government is doing something so when they use the diversion again there is a place for the water to get out and that there will be fair treatment for people affected."

Yuill said his land is on either side of the diversion and during the flood in 2011, 700 acres of his farmland was under water.

The same flood caused the province to put more water through the diversion than ever before to reduce the amount of water flowing in the Assiniboine River to Winnipeg. However, this caused Lake Manitoba to rise so high that when strong winds came numerous cottages in Twin Lakes Beaches and Delta Marsh were destroyed and farmland around the lake was submerged.

History

Updated on Monday, April 29, 2013 at 1:43 PM CDT: adds photo

3:48 PM: Adds update from the protest site.

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