A group of farmers protesting at the Portage Diversion by blocking its opening, through parking tractors and other pieces of equipment, have moved their machinery and the channel have been opened. A spokesperson for the government, Jean-Marc Prevost, confirmed that the blockade was cleared just in time for a buildup of ice that was approaching the diversion.
A crowd of heated farmers started a blockade at the diversion on Monday, which readdresses flood water from the Assiniboine River to Lake Manitoba. The situation worsened when the protestors were warned by authorities that their diversion will be opened anyway, even if their machines were to be swept away. Consequently, even more farmers took control of the area, as they claimed that farmers were not sufficiently compensated at the time when the diversion was installed in 2011. Even though the diversion prevented communities downstream from being submerged, nearby farm land was inundated. Several farmers have alleged that their land has not regained its natural richness and they are still suffering the consequences.
The diversion was opened recently because the government acquired an injunction by the courts on Monday evening, allowing them to bring in in the RCMP to remove the protestors. The Infrastructure Minister, Steve Ashton, mentioned that the province’s only priority was to guarantee the protection of nearby communities in light of warmer weekend temperatures causing rivers to crest in Manitoba. Rising rivers and streams washed out rural roads and highways and the flood was even blamed for a train derailment near the province’s border.
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