With balmy temperatures in the forecast this coming long weekend, Manitobans may be hitting the beaches earlier than normal.
Three Manitoba beach destinations are now among 26 beaches and seven marinas in Canada to be awarded the Blue Flag this year — a world-renowned eco-certification. Each beach and marina receiving the designation must meet high international standards in water quality, environmental management, environmental education, and safety and services.
Two Manitoba beaches have made the list this year to fly the prestigious Blue Flag — an international eco-certification for beaches and marinas.
West Grand Beach and Winnipeg Beach are among the 24 new additions recognized by Environmental Defence for achieving international standards in four categories: water quality, environmental management, environmental education, and safety and services.
The province is providing millions as part of a disaster financial assistance (DFA) program to help property owners affected by last week’s storm in Winnipeg Beach, Gimli and the surrounding areas.
The exact amount of flood damage caused isn’t yet known, but the province anticipates it to be substantial.
The hardest hits areas were around lakes Manitoba, Winnipeg and Winnipegosis.
Property owners — excluding those who own cottages — can submit a property damage report until December 31, 2010 at ManitobaEMO.ca or by calling 1-888-267-8298.
The province has also asked the Government of Canada to cost share in some of the relief, which officials say could tally over $7 million.
Also on Thursday, the provincial government announced assistance to help cover the costs of flood proofing properties in the highest risk areas. Homeowners, farmers and business can apply for funding to offset the cost of building dikes and making other improvements to avoid flooding in rural areas, such as the Red River area north of Winnipeg.
Under the 2010 Manitoba Individual Flood Proofing Initiative, $9.8 million will be provided to assist property owners to protect eligible buildings and structures from future flood damages. The program will be delivered over six years and cover a maximum total project cost of $100,000.
Similar to the 1997 flood-proofing program, the landowner is responsible to pay 14 percent of the total project cost. To apply, visit Manitoba.ca/waterstewardship or call 1-866-MANITOBA (1-866-626-4862).
As well, $1.2 million is now available to assist municipalities to complete feasibility studies for construction of new dikes or improvements to existing community dikes.
At the same time, cleanup is currently underway at provincial parks around the south basin of Lake Winnipeg and on Lake Manitoba. Significant erosion occurred on the shorelines at Grand Beach, Patricia Beach, Winnipeg Beach and Camp Morton provincial parks on Lake Winnipeg. There was also damage to infrastructure near the shores of some parks including Grand Beach where wind and waves destroyed the boardwalk.
Residents in Manitoba’s Interlake will be spending this weekend cleaning up after an unusual weather event Wednesday, which meteorologists are calling a “weather bomb.”
The storm brought with it gusts of wind, stirring up Lake Winnipeg to ravish shoreline properties in Winnipeg Beach and Gimli.
Earth dikes were breached, forcing property owners to flee their homes and officials to declare states of emergencies in several areas.
Longtime residents say this is the worst storm they have ever seen, especially considering it occurred in late October. Many worry they’re just days away from the flood waters freezing, leaving a mess to deal with as winter approaches, and even more so next spring.
Manitoba’s Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick toured the area Thursday, saying winds blew in at more than 90 km/h, making a north basin already at capacity to flow into the smaller south basin.
The province hasn’t said yet how much financial assistance will be provided, but for now, many residents are still assessing the damage and tallying their own estimates.
With the last long weekend of summer now behind us, Manitobans took the opportunity to venture out to cottage country and beaches one last time.
Southern Manitoba was graced with favourable weather to say the least, which had popular Interlake destinations like Winnipeg Beach and Gimli buzzing with activity.
Further south, people were taking in the St. Malo Summer Festival, which began Thursday and ran through Sunday in the little town just past St. Pierre-Jolys. The Manitoba Homecoming 2010 sponsored event drew thousands to watch the popular soap box races and baseball/slo-pitch tournament. On Sunday afternoon a unique contest called the “Goose Dump” took place. For the sake of not wanting to get into too much detail, organizers sell off 50 squares in a grid placed on the ground. If the goose happens to do its business in the square you put your money on, you end up winning. One local spectator familiar with the activity referred to it as “goose poop gambling.” Sounds lovely.
View the photo gallery below from Winnipeg Beach and Gimli.
The ice wall at Winnipeg Beach remains, despite the warm weather southern Manitoba has been experiencing lately. The large formation of ice on the shores of Lake Winnipeg has been a draw for spectators ever since the ice came crashing ashore during the first week of April.
On Saturday, people flocked to the piles of ice to take photos during near 20°C weather.
Watch more footage of the ice wall uploaded to YouTube earlier this month.