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This article was published 5/12/2019 (684 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As city councillors hear from delegations and debate program cuts as part of the ongoing budget consultation process, there was some good news for a group of Elmwood seniors.
For years, residents of Columbus Centennial Seniors Co-op Housing, a seniors complex located at 404 Desalaberry Ave., have been watching as the Red River slowly but surely erodes the riverbank behind their building.
In the lead-up to the City’s 2020 budget, councillors on the environment committee recommended an investment of $250,000 towards riverbank stabilization at the location. While the housing complex is privately owned, the group leases the land from the City of Winnipeg.
"Am I optimistic? No," said Coun. Jason Schreyer (Elmwood-East Kildonan) regarding the committee’s directive. "Given the austerity the administration has put forward, there’s no money right now."
The funding recommended by the environment committee has yet to be approved by council, and could be cut or modified as the budget process continues into the new year.
Schreyer, who has been advocating for protection of the riverbank at that location for years, said that it’s not the first time the administration has been directed to invest in stabilization at that location.
In the summer of 2018, erosion resulted in a large fissure damaging a walkway behind the building. However, nothing was done at the time.
"There is no council-approved budget or program to support stabilization works on private lands or for the benefit of a private entity," explained a spokesperson at that time.
In the meantime, the situation has only worsened.
"We know this riverbank loses one foot a year, to say nothing about that chasm, which is growing," Schreyer said. "It’s very real. This isn’t hypothetical forecasting, this is in your face."
In order to attempt to move the issue forward, Schreyer has committed funds from the Elmwood-East Kildonan ward allowance in hopes that the City will match funding.
"I’m doing this because the system is not working," he said, adding he estimates it will cost upwards of a million dollars to stabilize the bank. "This might be the worst case of riverbank deterioration in the city."
Elmwood MLA Jim Maloway and Elmwood-Transcona MP Daniel Blaikie have both spoken in support of stabilizing the property, though whether provincial or federal funding exists for the project remains in doubt.
Sheldon Birnie is the reporter/photographer for The Herald. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112