Council and administration for the Municipality of Rhineland have mapped out a strategic plan for 2024 and have decided to move ahead with previously established priorities.
That, noted Reeve Don Wiebe, includes regional cooperation, particularly with the neighbouring Town of Altona.
"We started last year with Tanya Waddell when she came to work for RPGA Planning District where the other part of her responsibility is, because she's working for both municipalities, to work on asset management," he explained. "Tanya has started that work in the last six months and we expect that will continue, and she will be advising Council what she has learned and what are some next steps."
The Municipality also hopes to continue its work with Altona on joint economic development.
Water management also falls into the regional cooperation category.
Wiebe says they'll be working on watershed management and with watershed districts to try to get as many of the regional water issues on their agenda as possible. Additionally, the Municipality will continue to advocate, along with regional partners, for what Wiebe describes as the area's critical need for a larger, sustainable and dependable supply of drinking water. "We are near our capacity and so, we need to expand the Letellier water treatment plan going forward so we can accommodate growth in the area."
There will be a continued focus on drain maintenance and lobbying efforts for the Province to maintain its drain Rhineland as well. Council is also mulling a few hydrology studies.
Meantime, Wiebe also hopes to further discussions on the idea of implementing the Province's Safety Officer Program (SOP) in the Municipality. An official with Manitoba Justice reviewed the program at Council's August meeting, and Wiebe says the group listened with keen interest as they discovered it could very well address some local needs.
"We continue to advocate for more police presence from the RCMP in the area, but also we want to look at the Safety Officer program. We're going to start that by having a discussion with the Altona Police Service and see if there's some kind of shared aspect that should be considered. I hope to see that we can get a definite plan going forward. If we can't start, maybe having a definite plan going forward."
2024 will also see the third and final phase of the Municipality's $4.8 million Priority Grain Roads project completed.
"We will be focusing on the repair of frost boils and rebuilding the road base," explained Wiebe. "So that's happening for this next year. That was a federal government grant, so that's definitely on the agenda."
In 2021, a $4 million federal-provincial grant was awarded for the project, with the Municipality pitching in another $800,000.
Phase 1 involved building about a half-mile of concrete roads in both of the Municipality's industrial parks at a cost of about $2.3 million. While that work began in 2022, the final touches were completed in 2023. As well, Phase 2, which saw drain tile installed along the entire priority grain road network, was also completed in 2023. The intent is to better secure the road surfaces and was a bit of an experiment in helping to get rid of excess moisture underneath and prevent frost boils from forming.
"Then, we also will continue discussions, as these roads are built, whether we should have a 70 kilometer per hour speed zone on some of our key roads," added Wiebe. "Because the truck traffic at high speeds is quite tough on our roads and makes the maintenance quite difficult."
A few utility projects are also slated for 2024.
"There's an area in the municipality that has low pressure, that's Blumenort Village," said Wiebe. "They have some pressure issues, particularly in spring and we hope we can fix that by doing some live looping. We're getting estimates right now."
A bypass is also needed at the Rosenfeld pump house in order to prevent boil water advisories, he noted.
Meantime, the lagoons in Plum Coulee and Gretna are past their best-before date and Wiebe says the Municipality needs to start working on how to how to restore them. "That's quite a long process and has environmental consultations and the whole bit, so we need that start that process this year as well."