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Bergen tours riding, talks to RMs

By Robin Dudgeon, Portage Daily Graphic

MP Candice Bergen pictured in the RM of Victoria on Wednesday. L-R back: Deputy Reeve Ray Huggart, Reg Marginet, Wil Rex. Front L-R: Bergen, Reeve Harold Purkess, and CAO Ivan Bruneau. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

MP Candice Bergen pictured in the RM of Victoria on Wednesday. L-R back: Deputy Reeve Ray Huggart, Reg Marginet, Wil Rex. Front L-R: Bergen, Reeve Harold Purkess, and CAO Ivan Bruneau. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Member of Parliament for Portage-Lisgar, Candice Bergen, was in the riding, Wednesday, where she met with a number of different municipalities to discuss important issues such as rural water expansion.

“I have 15 rural municipalities that make up my riding. At the end of the summer I tried to visit a number of them and there were still a few I hadn’t been able to visit,” said Bergen.

She visited the RM of Roland, RM of Thompson, RM of North Norfolk, and the RM of Victoria where she was able to meet with reeves, mayors, and councillors in Roland, MacGregor, Holland, and Treherne.

“A lot of miles were put on but it gave me the chance, as all of these meeting do, to meet with the reeves, the mayors, and the councillors who are obviously dealing with all the issues that are on the ground, grassroots types of issues,” said Bergen.

Issues that were discussed included the livestock and pork industries, infrastructure, future agreements and funding, and rural water expansion.

Bergen noted that the Province has been receiving funding since 2009 from the Growing Forward program, which is a five-year agreement between the federal and provincial governments, which is supposed to assist Manitoba with these types of issues.

But there is still much work to be done in other areas of the province with regards to rural water expansion, said Bergen.

“Our federal government has provided money to the provinces under Growing Forward for rural water expansion. In Manitoba the NDP have not used the funds for that. I’m not sure what they used it for but it’s not been for rural water expansion and certainly not anything here in southern Manitoba,” said Bergen.

“In Saskatchewan they use that money for rural water expansion. We would obviously again hope that the NDP provincial government would be as committed to rural Manitoba as we are,” said Bergen.

Even though the Province of Manitoba recognizes the importance of rural water expansion and celebrated upgrades to the water treatment plant in Niverville in June it is still an issue that rural municipalities in Manitoba are struggling with.

“Expanding water services in rural communities is essential to promoting health, community stability and growth, and economic prosperity,” said the Honourable Ron Lemieux, Manitoba Local Government Minister in a press release. “This is why investment in this type of infrastructure is an important part of our commitment to Manitobans. Our province will continue to focus on providing clean drinking water to all communities in Manitoba.”

The Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) also recognized the short fall of the Province on this issue. In a report issued back in March following a meeting with the Honourable Ron Kostyshyn, Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives they made several recommendations to the Province with regards to rural water pipeline funding.

The AMM hoped the Province would establish a commitment of $10 million annually as part of a tri-level funding initiative towards rural water pipeline funding.

“Rural water pipelines would help to improve water quality and quality of life for residents who currently rely on wells for their water supply,” read the report. “This is especially important for areas of Manitoba experiencing de-population because water quality influences the attractiveness of a community and the quality of life of its residents.”

Bergen learned in meetings with the rural municipalities that in some areas, including the RM of Victoria, there are families who cannot even drink their own water. She is hoping to take this information back to Ottawa with her and work to get some of that funding to the rural municipalities.

“I’m hoping that I can speak with our Minister and that we can just find out where it’s gone and encourage all levels of government to make sure to put the funding where it’s needed and make sure that all areas of the province, including southern Manitoba, receive the funding that its allocated for,” said Bergen.


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