Blockades at Brady Road landfill cost city $400,000

A city of Winnipeg department is asking for more than $400,000 in additional money for its operating budget, to account for what it said it was forced to spend because of multiple blockades at the Brady Road Landfill since last December.

A report recently received by the city’s finance committee shows that Winnipeg’s Water and Waste Department is asking for an additional $406,000 for their 2023 budget, saying the money is needed because of what was spent while the Brady Road Landfill was temporarily blockaded by protesters on multiple occasions.

In the report, the department said the extra $406,000 is now needed because of money spent during the blockades to divert garbage from the Brady Road landfill to two privately-run Manitoba landfills.

The department claims the city spent more money than originally anticipated on tipping fees because they were forced to use privately-run landfills during blockades where tipping fees are higher than at Brady Road, and the city also lost money because of lost tipping fees at Brady Road during the blockades.

“As a result of waste being diverted, a budget adjustment of up to $406,000 is needed for the increased tipping fee expense in tax-supported collection,” the report states

Protests at the landfill first began around Dec. 11 of last year after Winnipeg Police said they would not search at a different Manitoba landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran, two Indigenous women believed to have both been killed by an alleged serial killer and dumped at the Prairie Green Landfill, north of Winnipeg.

A permanent encampment and blockade was set up at Brady Road on Dec. 18 of last year, and the landfill was shut down and not reopened until Jan. 6 of this year, after the city reached a deal with those running the encampment to open sections of the landfill.

Then in July of this year, the main road into the landfill was blocked after then-Premier Heather Stefanson announced the provincial government would not assist with a search for Harris and Myran, and the road was shut down for more than a week, before a judge ordered the blockade to come down.

A third temporary blockade that lasted less than 24 hours was set up in September of this year in response to the former PC government touting in campaign advertising that their promise not to help search for the remains of the two women was a reason to vote for the PCs in the Oct. 3 provincial election, an election the PCs ultimately lost to the Manitoba NDP.

Alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki faces first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Harris and Myran, as well as in the death of Rebecca Contois, whose remains were found last year at the Brady Road Landfill, and an unidentified woman Indigenous leaders are calling Buffalo Woman whose remains have not been found.

In February, a report said that in December of last year the blockade cost the city more than $900,000.

The report showed a loss of $454,000 in revenue while customers were unable to access the site, while the city paid an additional $405,000 in tipping fees to use other landfills. The city also spent $15,000 last year on fees for the disposal of glass items, and an additional $40,000 went toward other costs related to the protest, including hiring extra security.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun