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Manitoba Government to strengthen environment act to safeguard waterways

The Manitoba Government looks to strengthen environment act to safeguard waterways
Manitoba Government to strengthen environment act to safeguard waterways

By: Staff Writer - Winnipeg Tribune

Winnipeg, March 6, 2024 - The Manitoba government has unveiled plans to enhance the Environment Act, with a particular focus on safeguarding waterways. The announcement was made today by Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt, who outlined key measures aimed at intervening more swiftly in the event of environmental concerns, including the exploration of fines as a mechanism for expedited action.

Minister Schmidt emphasized the recent sewage spill in the City of Winnipeg as a catalyst for reevaluating the province's approach to water protection. "The recent sewage spill in the City of Winnipeg raised concerns about how we can better protect our water. Our government is strengthening our ability to protect lakes and rivers for Manitobans," stated Schmidt. She underscored the government's commitment to immediate action in instances of water treatment issues.

At present, the Environment Act imposes limitations on the timely response to environmental infractions, as environment officers are only permitted to press charges following an extensive investigation and court proceedings. Minister Schmidt highlighted this as a hindrance to prompt intervention.

Moreover, there exists a critical gap in public notification protocols, with no current mandate for licensed authorities to inform the public, First Nations, and other affected communities of significant incidents. This lack of transparency poses challenges in addressing environmental emergencies efficiently.

To address these shortcomings, the Manitoba government is poised to implement reforms that facilitate rapid intervention and enhance community engagement. Minister Schmidt affirmed collaboration with the City of Winnipeg, announcing a substantial commitment of $10 million in funding to support upgrades to wastewater infrastructure. This collaboration underscores the government's dedication to fostering partnerships for environmental stewardship.

The proposed amendments to the Environment Act signal a proactive stance by the Manitoba government in confronting environmental challenges head-on. By streamlining enforcement procedures and prioritizing community involvement, these measures aim to fortify the province's resilience against environmental threats while ensuring the sustainability of its natural resources for generations to come.


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