Landfill ‘dynamic, dangerous place’ for search: Prairie Green manager


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Waste is constantly being moved at a Winnipeg-area landfill where the bodies of two slain Indigenous women are believed to be, making it very difficult to locate anything, according to the site’s manager.

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Waste is constantly being moved at a Winnipeg-area landfill where the bodies of two slain Indigenous women are believed to be, making it very difficult to locate anything, according to the site’s manager.

Despite calls from their families, city police have decided not to search the Prairie Green Landfill for Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26, stating there is “no hope” of locating their remains.

Addressing the odds of recovery, Barry Blue, district manager of the landfill owned by Waste Connections of Canada, said he would have to defer the police because “they’re the experts.”

“Landfills are a dynamic, dangerous place. There are a lot of moving parts, so locating anything might be extremely challenging,” he told the Free Press on Wednesday.

Alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki, 35, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Harris, Myran, Rebecca Contois, 24, and an unidentified woman named by elders as Buffalo Woman.

Police believe the remains of Harris and Myran were in the same truckload that was disposed of May 16 at Prairie Green, just north of Winnipeg in the Rural Municipality of Rosser.

The women were killed days earlier, according to detectives.

Police do not have a definitive location of the remains of Buffalo Woman, as they seek to establish her identity.

Remains belonging to Contois were found in a garbage bin near an Edison Avenue apartment in May, and at the Brady Road landfill (south edge of Winnipeg) in June.

Police said they learned June 20 Harris and Myran’s remains were believed to be at the Prairie Green site.

Staff and management have been affected by the development, said Blue, while he offered condolences to the families of the four Indigenous women.

“It’s a horrendous situation, and it’s an unspeakable tragedy,” he said. “Our hearts are with the victims’ families.”

Blue said the company, based in the Toronto area, is co-operating with police, adding officers contacted the landfill earlier this year and asked to look at the site.

Police said Tuesday a search of the four-acre landfill isn’t possible for several reasons, including safety concerns and an overwhelming amount of material disposed of at the site since mid-May.

The waste has been compacted with 9,000 tonnes of wet clay to a depth of about 12 metres.

Despite the explanation from police, the families of Harris and Myran, along with Indigenous leaders, have called on the Winnipeg Police Service to reconsider.

Harris’s daughters suggested a different agency or team search the landfill, if police don’t change their mind.

Blue declined to comment on what would happen if the women’s families or their supporters mobilized a team of search and recovery experts.

Cathy Merrick, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said the decision not to search the site sends a “dark message” to First Nations women and girls.

“Human beings deserve the effort, no matter how dismal or difficult the task may seem,” she said in a news release. “It is unnerving that the WPS is creating unmarked graves in these landfill sites.”

The AMC insists a search is feasible, while accusing police of failing to do enough.

While acknowledging there is public anger and the families are heartbroken, WPS Chief Danny Smyth told reporters Tuesday the service was hoping for a different outcome.

He said a site assessment by the forensics unit found it is unlikely the remains would be found during a search of the landfill.

Despite the explanation from police, Mayor Scott Gillingham doesn’t consider the matter closed.

“I’m open to whatever may be possible in the future, but right now, my role, my commitment, is to continue to have dialogue with the Indigenous leaders of this community that are supporting the families through this horrific tragedy,” he said.

Winnipeg’s mayor cannot direct police operations.

If federal money or support is made available for a search, Gillingham said he would be open to working with Ottawa.

with files from Joyanne Pursaga

Twitter: @chriskitching

Chris Kitching

As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

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