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Year-in-Review with Interlake MLA

Derek Johnson looks forward to “shovels in the ground” in 2018. He has been MLA for Interlake since April 19, 2016.

Derek Johnson looks forward to “shovels in the ground” in 2018. He has been MLA for Interlake since April 19, 2016.


By Twyla Siple


Interlake’s Member of Legislative Assembly, Derek Johnson, had some great things to say about 2017 for his constituency. 


Johnson said he feels Chief David Crate of Fisher River Cree Nation, who was elected last year for his eighth straight term, and inducted into the Order of Canada in December, was one of the most notable members of his constituency in 2017. Crate did “great things” for his community in not just the last year, but for many years. “He is a very, very good leader and obviously well respected.”


The Interlake MLA was adamant to mention that every single community that he represents has a good core set of volunteers, and named Mrs. Andrea Sweetland from Eriskdale, as one of the most notable volunteers of 2017, in Interlake. An active community member who did a lot of work for the Eriksdale Museum, according to Johnson, Sweetland also helped erect a monument for the founder of her town.


“The volunteers are so important to our communities,” Johnson said,
“and so many people are so selfless in the rural area.”


“We have had a lot of things moving forward,” he said, “it’s definitely been a good year. We’re working hard on a multitude of different fronts that will help people in the area.” 


One of those fronts includes the new arena that’s being built in Lundar. “(It) is a facility that is going to get kids more active, so a project like that with a walking and running track on the second storey will really help us out.” he said. 


The RM of of West Interlake budgeted $750,000  for the town of Ashern’s wastewater treatment lagoon, which according to Johnson, is at capacity, and can help the area, once done.


The town of Arborg’s Water Treatment Plant secured $266,666 in funding from the federal and provincial government through their joint Small Communities Fund last year, along with the town’s pre-budgeted contribution of $133,333. This put their total amount for upgrades at $400,000. 


Thanks to the same fund, Fisher Branch is building a new side walk and pedestrian bridge this year. “When they go between the schools, they actually have to walk on the side of the (provincial) road, so they are going to put a pedestrian bridge in and continue the sidewalk over the bridge,” Johnson said. “It’s about safety as much as it is about building the community.”


Interlake’s MLA looks forward to shovels in the ground on the Lake Manitoba/Lake St. Martin Channel in 2018. “It’s $500 million on the channel outlet over five years, and will benefit so many Manitobans,” Johnson said. “There was a Portage diversion that put water into Lake Manitoba, but there was never a channel to remove it… (and) so this is a big step forward.”


The RM of St. Laurent is in the planning phases of building a multi-cultural centre museum, and Johnson is excited for the return of the display that was once housed at the Smithsonian, a museum of natural history in Washington DC, from 2004 to 2012.


Many of the artifacts from the display have since been returned to their original owners, according to Tiffany Desjarlais, St. Laurent’s Economic Development Officer. So far the RM has only begun phase one of the project, a 750 square-foot storage area. Once complete, the RM can then  start retrieving the heritage artifacts from their rightful owners. and keep them properly preserved in a climate controlled storage facility.  


 “The funding has already been secured, and blueprints are being drawn up,” Desjarlais said.

Interlake has $100 million worth of contracts ready to go forward in 2018, according to Johnson, they just need the governments approval.


- with files from Juliet Kadzviti

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