Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/12/2016 (1041 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeggers who live along the city’s many riverbanks are all too familiar with the problem of erosion.
Riverbank stabilization work is needed for residents to decrease their loss of property and increase their peace of mind. Some residents can afford to do that work themselves, but others, unfortunately, cannot.
This is the case for a group of seniors in Elmwood-Transcona who live in the Columbus Housing Co-op at 404 DeSalaberry Ave. Located on an outside bend of the Red River, this six-storey housing complex is effectively losing its fight against riverbank erosion.
The problem is not new. In 2011, after witnessing the riverbank move increasingly closer to their doorstep, members of the housing co-op commissioned an engineering report. Prepared by Trek Geotechnical, the report acknowledges the "possibility that the integrity of the structure will be impacted at some point during its design life" as a result of the riverbank’s movements.
The report heightened residents’ sense of urgency regarding the need for action to safeguard their homes. Where they once enjoyed a park behind their homes, the bank has completely eroded. Their sidewalk is heaving and the edge of the bank is closing in on their building.
The City of Winnipeg has a paltry budget for riverbank stabilization and says it is content to leave the bank in its "natural state." You only have to speak to residents and look at the situation for yourself to understand their sense of urgency.
That is why I reached out to Mayor Brian Bowman twice this summer in the hope that he would join me for a tour of the grounds with concerned residents. Unfortunately, I only got a form response and Columbus Co-op residents are no closer to a solution.
I believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Recently the federal and provincial governments announced that almost $8.7 million will be available to "support the construction, repair and (adaptation) of affordable housing for seniors," as well as $33 million "to help address the increasing demand for repairs as social housing units age."
I am waiting for an answer from Manitoba’s Minister of Families as to whether or not his government will consider riverbank stabilization as repair or adaptation work. In that case, some of this new money could be used to preserve the seniors housing at Columbus Co-op.
Another option would be to reprioritize the Louise Bridge replacement. Some of the proposals for that project have included riverbank stabilization work that would help the Columbus Housing Co-op.
While the Waverley Underpass is important for commuters in the South End, nobody’s home is riding on the project. The Louise Bridge project addresses significant traffic issues in Winnipeg too, and it has the potential to save the homes of dozens of Elmwood seniors from falling into the Red River. If there is no other way to find money for Columbus Co-op, replacing the Louise Bridge should be the city’s No. 1 infrastructure priority.
Elmwood-Transcona constituency report.
Daniel Blaikie is the NDP MP for Elmwood-Transcona.