Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Residents helpless as town dismantled

Hydro's demolition of Pointe du Bois is like 'slap in the face'

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A crew takes down the foundation of one of 10 homes to be demolished in Pointe du Bois. Hydro is forging ahead despite residents' objections.

JEFF DE BOOY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A crew takes down the foundation of one of 10 homes to be demolished in Pointe du Bois. Hydro is forging ahead despite residents' objections. Photo Store

Manitoba Hydro isn't waiting for residents of Pointe du Bois to leave.

Instead, it began pressing ahead with demolition of the century-old town last week as the remaining 20 or so residents looked on.

A dozen homes and the former curling rink are to be demolished this year, a Hydro spokesman told the Free Press.

That still leaves about 30 homes, seven of which still have residents. Three apartment units are also being rented. Only current or retired Hydro employees can rent accommodations in the town.

The homes are mainly two-storey, pre-Second World War abodes. There is also a former school, a relatively new outdoor pool and a grocery store.

Angel Calvo is not a resident but runs the small grocery store in Pointe du Bois, located about 150 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. She leases the building from Hydro.

Calvo hasn't given up hope of being able to continue running the store. "We're not going without a fight," she said but was not specific on how she could stop the Crown corporation. She was told in April she would have to leave by the end of August, but has not been contacted since. She has not received anything in writing.

One resident told the Free Press residents are unhappy but fear repercussions at their workplace if they speak out. "It was a bit of a slap in the face for all of us" when Hydro announced earlier this year that everyone had to move out of the town by Jan. 1, 2015, the resident said. Employees believed they would be allowed to retire there, the individual said. Now residents will have to take out the first mortgage in their lives. That wasn't something they were budgeting on as they approach retirement.

Residents wrote a letter to Hydro CEO Scott Thomson requesting an extension beyond Jan. 1, 2015, but were refused. The Hydro spokesman said the same number of homes will be demolished this year as in 2012, but a resident said only seven homes were demolished in 2012.

The Crown corporation inherited Pointe du Bois as part of its purchase of Winnipeg Hydro in 2002. However, Hydro says it is not in the business of running towns. It adds the homes are rundown and not worth saving. Since assuming ownership, the corporation hasn't allowed anyone to move into the houses when they become vacant.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 8, 2013 A7

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Updated on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 6:32 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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