Federal environment minister re-announces funding for Winnipeg landfill project

In an election campaign-style announcement, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced $1.3 million to cut emissions at Winnipeg's Brady Road landfill — but the money had been granted to the city months ago.

$1.3M to cut methane emissions at Brady Road landfill granted to City of Winnipeg months ago by Ottawa

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says Friday's re-announcement of previously approved funding was not election campaigning but 'confirming our commitment to this project.' (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

Under the watchful eyes of a security detail and political staff, flanked by Liberal MPs and city councillors, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced $1.3 million in funding Friday to cut methane emissions at Winnipeg's Brady Road landfill. 

The grant, however, had actually been made by the federal government months ago from its Low Carbon Economy Fund, and was approved by the city in April.

"This is the same money we are talking about right now, but this will be very very helpful to expand our capture [of methane gas emissions]," said Coun. Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre), Winnipeg's water and waste committee chair.

The Brady Road landfill is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the province.

Asked what prompted McKenna to come to the city other than the re-announcement of a months-old funding agreement, McKenna said she was in Winnipeg to talk to city politicians.

"I am here doing this announcement, having conversations with the city about other opportunities we can do, and then I am heading home," McKenna told reporters at the press conference set up in the city hall courtyard.

'Recycled announcement': Green leader

McKenna's Winnipeg stop drew fire from the head of the Green Party of Manitoba.

"We get a recycled announcement and a highly partisan and political approach to something, where I think we should be taking a much more sincere, honest and co-operative approach," said James Beddome.

The Brady Road landfill project to cut gases is a start, he said, but compost programs, looking at emissions from other landfills and hooking pipes to the University of Manitoba to burn the Brady Road gas as fuel should all be part of the emission strategy. 

Manitoba Green Party Leader James Beddome says politicians should create 'a truly sustainable recycling program instead of recycling announcements.' (Rudy Gauer/CBC )

Leaders, Beddome says, from both Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties "have to put the political swords down" on climate change.

McKenna also said fighting climate change shouldn't be a political issue, but lashed out several times at Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservative government and the federal Conservatives for their positions on the environment.

"It is unfortunate that we have Conservative politicians, from Premier Pallister to [Ontario] Premier [Doug] Ford to [federal Conservative Leader] Andrew Scheer who seem to not understand the science … that shows that climate is increasingly an emergency," McKenna said. 

McKenna says she offset emissions for the trip for Friday's re-announcement of funding and would have cycled to the event from Ottawa, 'but it is a little bit far.' (Rudy Gauer/CBC )

She denied her attendance at a re-announcement of a long-approved project was campaigning for the coming federal election.

"I think we're just confirming our commitment to this project, confirming our partnership with the city. We also had a good discussion," McKenna said.

Manitobans will also go to the polls for a provincial election on Sept. 10.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Manitoba Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires responded to McKenna's criticisms by saying "picking fights with the provinces is not a progressive or helpful way to take action on the environment."

The spokesperson said Manitoba submitted multiple project applications to the federal government in 2018 for funding under the federal Low Carbon Economy Fund, and looks forward to making further announcements.

McKenna was asked if she calculated the greenhouse gas emissions related to travelling to Winnipeg for the re-announcement of the Brady Road funding.

"I offset all my emissions," McKenna said.

"You know, obviously if I could ride my bike here, it is my preferred mode of transport — but it is a little bit far."


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