• Tightened restrictions on gatherings now in effect

    Tightened restrictions on gatherings now in effect

    One week after tightening COVID rules in the province, Manitoba has upped the ante once again, this time for a month.
    On April 26, Premier Brian Pallister and Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Brent Roussin appeared before the people once again to give them the bad news. On April 19, the government had made small tweaks to the Code Red restrictions with the hope they would be good enough to stem the tide of the rising cases, including tougher variants, in the third wave. However, after a weekend that saw skyrocketing cases, it was deemed not enough.
    “The third wave of the pandemic is here. It’s a race between variants and vaccines right now in most of our country,” Pallister said, “and right now the variants are winning.”
    As the premier stated, they started to strengthen public health orders the previous week to help stem the problem and try to keep from a full shutdown. In spite of collective efforts, and some of the toughest rules in the country, the test positivity and hospitalization rates are going up. Pallister said it was a tough spot, but not unprecedented as we faced them before.
    The new rules would be in place for four weeks, starting Wednesday, April 28. This would carry it beyond the May long weekend, the traditional beginning of outdoor times
    “It is bad news to some but understandable. It is the unofficial beginning of summer. We will have to delay that unofficial start a little this year.”
    Roussin said they worked hard to keep numbers under control, but the variants became a wild card. We are now in a similar position as we were last October, when new shutdowns began.

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  • Grassland approve three hog barns, but face opposition

    Grassland approve three hog barns, but face opposition

    Although the Municipality of Grassland did not make an immediate decision on three hog barns, all three met the technical review by the time of the conditional use hearing, and were given the go-ahead the next day.
    On April 20, council held the public forum on the three HyLife projects. Due to COVID-19 protocols, those interested could not all meet in the Elgin Hall. However, Grassland Reeve Ruth Mealy said people could listen through their car radios, and there were speakers set up outside as well. Those signed up could come in, one at a time, and present against or in favour of the barns.
    “Apparently there were around 60 vehicles,” Mealy said. “We had three staff members out there passing around agendas. The process worked well, the staff did a marvelous job.”
    She said in her mind, the public was fairly balanced between those in favour and those opposed to the projects.

  • April snow brings much needed moisture

    April snow brings much needed moisture

    An April snowfall and cooler temperatures that hit southwest Manitoba earlier in the week were certainly welcomed for desparately needed moisture.
    On Monday morning, April 12 wet snow began falling on Southern Manitoba after weeks of above-seasonal temperatures and dry conditions. The snow continued to the next day, ending early Tuesday evening. Accumulation in the region varied from 12 cm to 20 cm (five to eight inches).
    Everyone, especially the farming community, welcomed the moisture it left behind.
    Soil moisture and ground water in retention ponds were depleted after a record low snowfall winter and no spring runoff. Growers will be happy to see this moisture, even if it came as snow.

  • Dry conditions spark worries

    Dry conditions spark worries

    It is certainly a different world than the fall of 2019.

    Whereas at that point, the entire area was awash with water to the point where crops could not come off - moving into the spring of 2021, southwestern Manitoba is dry as the proverbial bone. Moisture left over from a year and a half was used up on the 2020 crop and now people are looking to the heavens for a little wet stuff. It is worrying agricultural producers, and those concerned about a spark setting something alight, particularly in the Turtle Mountains.

    Jon Gustafson is a cattle farmer and a councillor with the Municipality of Deloraine-Winchester. Farming about eight miles south of Deloraine just north of the US border, he said it is beyond dry. The creeks that usually empty from the Turtle Mountains into the sloughs of the area are not bringing the moisture. Gustafson said the lack of snowfall did not do anyone any good in his area.

    “I had wind breaks, they would be filled up with snow,” Gustafson explained. “You would get six foot high snow drifts. It would all drain into the dugouts. It was great. Not a drop of water came from them this year. It is really surprising how little moisture there was once the snow melted. Nothing ran, not that I could tell.”

    He said the fall came quickly in 2020 and then the snow was gone just as quickly this spring. Gustafson said there is an eerie silence where he is.

    “I can’t hear frogs. Are the sloughs dry? Is the frost not out of the ground yet?”

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