Recent Updates from the Manitoba Field Office

6 weeks 6 days ago

The benefits of new government initiatives in the North

March 6, 2014

Manitobans don’t always think of polar bears and beluga whales when they think of their province. But for visitors from around the world, polar bears and beluga whales are major attractions that we are increasingly known for. Churchill is the pre-eminent place for tourists to watch belugas and bears, and take in the tundra, subarctic conditions.

13 weeks 2 days ago

January 2014

In Manitoba’s North, the Bushline and Bayline communities rely on the Hudson Bay railway for access to the outside world. Omnitrax, the company that owns the railway, wants to begin putting these communities and the lands and waters of the North at risk by shipping crude oil up this dangerous rail line.

23 weeks 20 hours ago

November 2013

As I was getting ready for the train trip up the Bayline to Churchill, Manitoba – the day after our town hall meeting in Thompson – I was informed of a derailment right in the port of Churchill. As I rolled down the tracks back out of Churchill four days later, there was an accident in Wabowden resulting in leaking fluids and a hazardous mess to be excavated.

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Manitoba Field Office

Welcome to the Wilderness Committee's Manitoba Field Office. The Wilderness Committee is Canada’s largest membership-based wilderness preservation group with 60,000 members, supporters and volunteers, and we are hard at work on the ground in Manitoba. We’ve helped gain protection for over 50 major wilderness areas in Canada, including millions of hectares of critical wildlife habitats, and some of the world’s last large tracts of old-growth temperate rainforest and boreal forest. Through public education, grassroots mobilization, and strategic research, we are working on protecting the wild spaces and species in the province to ensure a healthy future for all Manitobans. We encourage you to join us in our work. 

Campaigns

Stretching from the east side of Manitoba’s Lake Winnipeg far into the province of Ontario is one of the greatest natural areas left on earth. The Heart of the Boreal is a vast wilderness filled with jack pine-covered granite ridges, black spruce and tamarack lowlands, and more lakes than you can imagine.

Manitobans are fortunate to still have vast expanses of intact, representative ecosystems within our province. These wild lands provide ecosystem services – byproducts of healthy and natural wild areas – to maintain our own health through clean air and clean water.

Manitoba’s provincial parks are home to remote sparkling lakes, clear rivers, sandy beaches and wild boreal forests. You can hike through natural grasslands in Spruce Woods, relax on the sand at Grand Beach, cross-country ski at Duck Mountain, spot rare orchids in Nopiming, or paddle down world-famous canoeing rivers in Atikaki.

Canadians are increasingly aware of the severe environmental issues associated with peat. For centuries peat was used as a source of fuel, and in modern times it is commonly used as a growing medium in amateur gardening. Unfortunately, peat mining is an incredibly destructive and unnecessary industry.

The north is often symbolized by caribou. School children even know of the massive herds made up of thousands of barren ground caribou migrating across the open tundra. The caribou is one of those iconic species, featured prominently on Canada’s 25-cent coin.

Make Your Voice Heard

No Crude Oil Shipments Through Churchill, Manitoba!

Write a letter now!

We need you to raise your voice against a terrible plan to ship crude oil through northern Manitoba communities to the Port of Churchill, and then by tanker through Hudson Bay. It’s a terrible idea that would put this fragile ecological area at risk!

Most people only know Churchill as the place to see polar bears and beluga whales; in fact, it’s the best place in the world to see them. Omnitrax, the company that owns the port and railway, plans to put those polar bears and belugas in jeopardy by shipping crude oil through this region.

We’ve already documented many aspects of this plan that simply won’t work. You can read about the area’s lack of oil spill containment equipment on our blog post here, and even see a government video of cleanup equipment failing in icy northern waters. You can read about how dangerous this rail line is in this blog post, which chronicles four separate derailments and accidents that occurred on this rail line while I was travelling to and from Churchill in the fall of 2013.

For some of the remote communities along the rail line, this single railway is their only access to the outside world – and to each other. How can oil spill response equipment be transported into these communities, when the only rail line has an accident on it? How do you evacuate people when there is no road into these communities? How do we safeguard the population, the wildlife, and the lands and waters that provide for them, when the only access – the rail line – is blocked by a train derailment?

Finally, Hudson Bay itself has no crude oil being shipped through it right now. We do not need to put Hudson Bay at risk. Nunavut, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec will all share the risk if crude oil is transported through Hudson Bay. This plan does not need to happen!

Please use this letter-writing tool to contact federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, and voice your opinion today! Share this information with your family, friends and neighbours – the more people who speak up, the better.

We must ban crude oil shipments through Hudson Bay to protect marine ecosystems, to protect the fragile northern ecology, and to protect the Bushline and Bayline communities – and the territories they rely on to thrive.

Click here to write to the Minister of Transport today.                      

 


Photo: The rail line heading into the Port of Churchill, Manitoba (Eric Reder).

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