As reported in the Winnipeg Sun, the Manitoba government is seeking private-sector ideas for ice-jam mitigation that could lead it to sell off provincially owned Amphibex machines.
A new request for information (RFI) notes the effort is part of a value-for-money analysis on government programs.
“As the ice jam mitigation program is only active for a portion of the year and the equipment may be used for other purposes, such as dredging, there is an opportunity for an entity to pursue other activities – when the ice-jam mitigation program is inactive – under a revenue-sharing agreement between the entity and Manitoba,” the RFI notes.
The document suggests submissions could include leases on the province’s three Amphibex machines, revenue-sharing for off-season work, or the possible sale of Amphibexes to a new service provider. In that final scenario, the province would rely on that provider’s equipment instead.
The document calls for any proposed change to guarantee the ice-breaking machines remain available to Manitoba each February and March.
But the Manitoba NDP say they’re concerned the threat of an ice jam could still emerge too quickly to ensure the equipment is available, should the province no longer own it.
“Spring time in Manitoba is unpredictable at the best of times. The Amphibex has given us the opportunity to have a little bit more predictability. The reality is that when we need them, when they need to be in place, we want these machines … to be ready to go,” said Matt Wiebe, the party’s infrastructure critic.
The RFI document notes ice-breaking plays an important role in flood prevention on the lower Red River and other rivers, with the machines collectively breaking up about 25 kilometres of ice each year to improve water flow.