City of Thompson Awarded $47 Million for Water and Sewer Main Renewal Program Through ICIP

The Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba have announced that the City of Thompson will be receiving $47 million towards its Water and Sewer Main Renewal Program as part of the 2019 Investing In Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP)’s Green Infrastructure Stream (GIS).

The grant includes a federal contribution of $18.8M, a provincial contribution of $15.6M, and a $12.5M contribution from the City of Thompson. The grant will fund renewal of nearly 14km of water lines in the community, as well as 3.3km of wastewater lines over a five-year period.

Water and wastewater work will be coordinated section by section to be completed prior to overlapping road work, to make sure work is efficient and cost-effective as possible.

Deerwood DriveJuniper Drive
Riverside Drive (Granite Crescent to Mystery Lake Road)Centennial Drive East
Hayes RoadCentennial Drive West
Burntwood DrivePrinceton Drive
Station Road (Princeton Drive to Industrial Area)Westwood Drive
Wuskwatim BayWekusko Street

Water & Sewer utility upgrades scheduled for renewal through the $47M ICIP grant awarded on August 13, 2021, according to their complementary roads. Construction will take place over a 5-year period.

“This grant didn’t fall in our laps overnight: much like our roadwork announcements earlier this month, this grant took three years of extensive planning and difficult budget choices to prepare for it,” said Mayor Colleen Smook. “Thompson is the Hub of the North, providing services for over 50, 000 people across northern Manitoba, and basic infrastructure like roads, water, and sewer are the bedrock for our businesses and residents who work hard to provide them. This second massive investment, from federal and provincial governments, recognizes our critical role in the north.”

Between this announcement and the road renewal funding announced on July 26, Thompson will be receiving $87 million in funding towards fundamental infrastructure upgrades through the 2019 ICIP program.

“These two announcements are first few steps towards a new and sustainable future for Thompson. We’re still working with our federal and provincial partners to do more for our residents and the visitors who rely on us every day, in recreation, public safety, and more,” added Mayor Smook.

Read the Provincial announcement, along with the other projects awarded funding under the GIS Stream, here: https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/?archive=&item=52129

City of Thompson Awarded $40 Million For Road Renewal Program Through ICIP

The Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba have announced that the City of Thompson will be receiving $40 million towards its Road Renewal Program as part of the 2019 Investing In Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP)’s Rural and Northern Infrastructure Stream.

The grant includes a federal contribution of $20M, a provincial contribution of $13.3M, and a $6.7M contribution from the City of Thompson. The grant will fund renewal of nearly 20km of 24 different roads in the community over a five-year period, almost a fifth of Thompson’s entire road network:

Roads scheduled for renewal through the $40M ICIP grant awarded on July 26, 2021. Construction will take place over a 5-year period.
Thompson Drive North + SouthPublic Lane
Nelson RoadBeaver Crescent
Deerwood DriveElk Bay
Caribou RoadFox Bay
Lynx CrescentSilver Street
Riverside DriveJuniper Drive
Nickel RoadSpruce Road
Princeton DriveWestwood Drive
Mallard CrescentSandpiper Crescent
Pintail CrescentWolf Street
Coral CrescentHayes Road
Seal RoadStation Road

“Council and administration have been working for three years to achieve this funding. We can’t understate what a massive investment this is: this is equal to a year’s worth of the City’s budget, dedicated exclusively to road work,” said Mayor Collen Smook. “Thompson is bigger than the people who live here: we are the Hub of the North, and people from across the region rely on our infrastructure year-round. This massive investment, from federal and provincial governments, recognizes our critical role in the north.”

“We’re still working hard behind the scenes, and this is just the start of more good things coming for the City,” she added.

Read the Provincial announcement, along with the other projects awarded funding under the RNI Stream, here: https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=51899&posted=2021-07-26

Province Announces Location of New Sobering Centre in Thompson

Polaris Centre will be Repurposed to Support Safer, Healthier Community: Friesen

Header Image: Stephen Allen giving Mayor Colleen Smook the keys to the Polaris Buildings.

This announcement was originally published by the Government of Manitoba here.

The Manitoba government is transferring ownership of the former Polaris Centre at the University of the North to the City of Thompson to house a sobering centre in the community, Justice Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“Sobering centres have been shown to reduce the number of intoxicated individuals who are hospitalized or held in holding cells. This model is better for the individual, and better for the utilization of police and emergency department resources,” said Friesen. “I’m pleased to announce this next step in the Thompson Sobering Centre project, which will support safety and health in Thompson and the surrounding regions.”

Sobering centres provide short-term recovery from intoxication in a safe setting, where individuals are medically cleared and monitored throughout their stay by on-site personnel. The new centre will provide a 24-7 safe and secure environment for non-violent, publicly intoxicated individuals to stay while the effects of drugs and/or alcohol wear off.

Public intoxication continues to be a significant health and public safety issue in Thompson, with over 2,400 detentions under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act in 2020 and over 1,100 so far in 2021. Public intoxication calls put a significant burden on Thompson’s RCMP detachment, as well as local health-care facilities.

“The Polaris buildings are a critical part of helping our most vulnerable residents find shelter and compassionate care in our community,” said Mayor Colleen Smook, City of Thompson. “We’re now looking forward to working with our community partners to provide that care, and mapping our next steps towards an integrated rehabilitation program.”

The Polaris Centre campus, constructed in 1968 at the corner of Princeton Drive and Station Road, sits on more than four acres of land and includes three buildings totaling 78,617 square feet of floor area. 

“This partnership with the City of Thompson has been terrific and I’m proud that we were able to support the community in this way,” said Central Services Minister Reg Helwer. “Repurposing this site will ensure people of Thompson have access to a safe environment for those that need it.”

The Manitoba government provided $2.8 million to establish and operate the centre, and will continue to work with the City of Thompson to open an interim centre in late fall/early winter while construction of the permanent centre continues.

The province continues to support law enforcement and community stakeholders in approaches to combat and reduce public intoxication and disorder in the downtown Thompson area and extend the Restorative Justice Centre model to the community.

Mayor and Council Approve 2020-2023 Contract With Steelworkers Local 8223

The City of Thompson and its Union partner, United Steelworkers Local 8223, have ratified a new 4-year contract for City of Thompson union employees, effective March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2024.

The new agreement approves a 0.75% annual wage increase for 2021 and 2022, and a 1.0% wage increase in 2023. The agreement also designates National Indigenous People’s Day as a statutory holiday for Union employees. It also includes minor language updates and the amalgamation of previously negotiated contracts agreed upon in 2020.

USW Local 8223 includes nearly 100 municipal employees across a variety of fields and departments, including recreation, public safety, public works and city planning.

“We want to thank USW for another year of negotiations in good faith and collaboration. We’ll continue to work together to find new ways to improve the services we offer to our residents,” said Mayor Colleen Smook. “We’re also proud to declare National Indigenous Peoples Day a stat holiday for our union partners, and we hope, in doing so, we’ll set an example for municipalities and businesses across Canada.”

Sport Manitoba Releases Final Funding From 2018 Winter Games

It’s been three years since the 2018 Manitoba Winter Games brought athletes from across Manitoba north to Thompson, so you might be surprised to find out that committees from the Winter Games have still been active completing final audits from the Games.

This year, 2018 Winter Games Host Society completed their last administrative activities, and at the end of April, the City of Thompson received the last $10, 000 hold-back from Sport Manitoba, closing the last chapter of the Winter Games in Thompson.

The Host Society left behind $423, 120.44 in legacy equipment and direct funding, benefitting city and local facilities like the TRCC and arenas, as well as community-driven clubs like the Burntwood Curling Club, Mystery Mountain Winter Park, and the Thompson Community Cross Country Trails. Several local clubs also received legacy funds and equipment from the Winter Games, including Thompson Tumblers, the Thompson Badminton Club, the Archery Club.

Beyond Legacy Funding

Following the games, an economic impact study was prepared by CTSA consultant Thomas McGuire, outlining the direct and spin-off economic benefits of the 2018 Manitoba Winter Games, estimating a a net benefit of $1.1 million to Thompson’s economy, $1.3 million across the province of Manitoba, and $1.7 million across Canada. The study’s presentation is available here.

One of the biggest benefactors was Thompson’s hospitality industry: over 3000 athletes, coaches, support staff, and spectators arrived in Thompson to attend the Winter Games. Roughly 99% of attendants planned an overnight stay in Thompson during the winter games, and 59% of them stayed three nights of more. Seventy percent of them stayed in a local hotel, with another 4% using a short-term rental platform like AirBnB.

These visitors spent an average of $767 during their stay, most of which was spent on food, beverages, and accommodations.

For The Winter Games also represented significant positive exposure for Thompson as a community. For 56% of visitors, it was their first visit to Thompson, and 92% of surveyed visitors rated their visit as “good” or “great”.

The 2018 Manitoba Winter Games are last Manitoba games that were hosted before the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 Manitoba Summer Games were postponed twice, now to be held in in Dauphin in 2024.

Beautify Thompson: Community Clean Up 2021 Starts June 1!

Our annual Community Clean Up is back for 2021 starting on June 1, with a new name: Beautify Thompson!

The spring litter clean-up is still a big part of Beautify Thompson, but cleaning up our community every spring is just the first step. We also need positive actions to spruce up our community.

This year, City Council has dedicated an additional $40, 000 to community beautification efforts: the City is looking to install new banners, flower pots, and in the winter, more festive holiday decorations downtown for everyone to enjoy.

So this year, along with our usual clean-up challenges, we’re inviting Thompsonites to lend us a hand!

Send Us your photos, win prizes.

By all counts, public health restrictions in 2021 are tighter than they were last year, so the same format applies: help us clean up Thompson by picking up litter, taking a picture of your haul, and sending them in to communications@thompson.ca, or by sending them to the City of Thompson Facebook or Instagram page.

We’ll share your awesome work online, and you’ll be entered to win Hub of the North merchandise, swag from Recycle Everywhere, and maybe more!

Just like last year, there will be bins out at every school on Monday to let people dispose of the litter they pick up every weekend, without filling their curbside bins or making a trip to the landfill. There will also be a bin available at the Public Works Yard on Seal Road all week long.

It’s going to run for six weeks, but you’re allowed to clean up wherever you please. No limits by area, and prizes will be drawn for every week!

Large Item Clean-up

If you have access to a truck or trailer, you can help us clean up unsightly furniture and appliances dumped within city limits this year. Register your vehicle with Public Works, and we’ll waive the surcharges that typically come with processing these large items.

To help with the large-item clean-up, you’ll need to register your vehicle by calling Public Works at 204-677-7970, or by emailing publicworks@thompson.ca. Take a photo of the large litter wherever you found it, then come drop it off at the Waste Disposal Grounds. We’ll waive the disposal fee for the items, and if you send us your photos (either to the email or through Facebook/Instagram), you’ll be entered to win prizes with everyone else who is participating!

Beautify Your Home!

Picking up litter and cleaning up our community is important, and everyone who does their part is a champion in our eyes. We also understand that in a summer like 2020, when it never really stopped raining, not everyone wants to get out and spend precious sunny days picking up litter.

This year, we’re also giving out prizes for people taking simple steps to beautify their homes and their neighbourhoods. Plant some flowers, decorate your balcony, revitalize your fence with a fresh coat of paint: anything that shows

Business Teams!

Last year, we saw participation from a handful of corporate teams, and we loved to see it. This year, we’re encouraging every business to assemble a team, get out for a few hours and help clean up Thompson.

Employees will be entered into our weekly residential draws like everyone else, but there’s an extra perk for businesses interested in participating: Not only will your business receive a shout-out on our social media channels, but participating businesses will be entered into their own draw: the winner will have their logo displayed on our commercial waste disposal truck for the rest of the summer!

Thanks to our 2020 participants: we hope to see everyone out again this year!

Thompson’s New Transit Buses Hit The Streets!

Today, the City of Thompson celebrated the arrival of two new 20-passenger ARBOC Spirit of Mobility transit buses which will provide the opportunity for a more reliable, safe and comfortable mode of transportation for Thompson residents. The addition of new, smaller transit buses will replace older, full-sized coaches making transit services more efficient and sustainable in the community.

The new buses are more proportional to the City of Thompson’s transit ridership than the previous full-sized transit buses, seating up to 20 people, with standing room available for more riders. Residents with reduced mobility can utilize this transit option for access to services in and around the City of Thompson.

The new buses will also include GPS systems which will help city planners assess the efficiency of existing transit routes, and in the future, allow residents to track buses in the city in real-time.

The Government of Canada and Government of Manitoba have each contributed toward the total eligible project costs through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF). The PTIF program provides short-term funding to help accelerate municipal investments to support the rehabilitation of transit systems, new capital projects, and planning for future transit expansion to foster long-term transit plans.

Revisions to Transit Routes Revisited

With the arrival of the new transit buses, the City of Thompson will also be revisiting bus routes in the city to make transit services more cost-efficient and improve access to transit services for mobility-impaired passengers. City planners will be working with Maple Bus Lines to improve on the first revision that was rolled out at the beginning of 2020, which was rolled back following resident concerns and logistical issues with the route.

quotes

“The arrival of these new buses will enhance transit service and encourage Thompson residents to choose a greener and more efficient way to commute. Investing in public transit supports efficient, sustainable and eco-responsible transportation, and helps improve connections between people and communities. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.”

The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“Our government is a proud supporter of public transit and pleased to partner on the purchase of new transit buses for the City of Thompson. Strategic investments in public transit infrastructure improves accessibility and the quality of life in Manitoba communities.”

The Honourable Reg Helwer, Minister of Central Services

“Improvements to our transit system have been a long time coming. Public transit that works well is an important part of an accessible and inclusive city.”

Colleen Smook, Mayor, City of Thompson

Council Presents 2021 Financial Plan To Public

Last night, on April 29, 2021, the City of Thompson’s Mayor and Council presented the City of Thompson’s 2021 Financial Plan to the general public. The presentation is available http://www.thompson.ca, and a recording of the presentation and public comments are available on Youtube here.

The City of Thompson’s total budget is $40, 960, 592 in 2021. The combined mill rate of School District and City taxes has increased by 2% in 2021, from 45.706 in 2020 to 46.620.

This means that for a property assessed at $174, 680, owners will pay $3, 656 in City and School District taxes before the provincial education tax credit is applied, compared with $3, 584 in 2020: a difference of $72 across the whole year, roughly equivalent to a tank of gas at current prices.

The operational budget for 2021 is status quo, meaning that council has only approved those increases that are contractual obligations, including union wages and the local RCMP contract among others. Operational expenses are the day-to-day expenses of running a city: wages, consumables like gas and small spare parts, etc.

However, 2021 continues to be far from an average year in the City of Thompson. Though the last two years have created many hardships, it has also presented opportunities.

Capital Projects, ICIP and Improving Infrastructure

Capital expenditures are the big stuff: the fundamental building blocks that the City and it’s residents. This includes things like roads, water mains, and buildings.

Previously, capital projects like the City’s Road Renewal Program came were exclusively funded through reserves and provincial grants and transfers. For the first time in nearly a decade, the City of Thompson is allocating property tax dollars to capital projects, in order to qualify for infrastructure funding through the Investing in Canada’s Infrastructure Fund (ICIP).

If the City receives ICIP funding, each dollar of City contribution for road work will be met with $5 of provincial and federal funding, meaning in the first year, the City will be able to accomplish $5.7 million in road work while contributing only $955, 142.86.

Each dollar contributed towards water and sewer work will be met with $3 of provincial and federal funding. In the first year, the City would be able to accomplish $6.8 million in water and sewer work while contributing $1.8 million.

The total value of these multi-year projects combined adds up to $88 million, with the city responsible for 22% of the cost.

This funding is not a regular opportunity, and cannot be deferred with the expectation of receiving it in another year. Therefore, Council determined that taking advantage of this opportunity was critical.

Should the City not receive the ICIP grant, the money raised will not be spent, and Council will determine the next steps around what to do with the funds that were collected.

“We hear every year that road work is an extremely high priority for our residents. Road and water renewal is not a luxury, and has already been part of our capital renewal plan for years. This is an opportunity to speed up that process considerably while freeing up more resources for other community services.”

Colleen Smook, Mayor of Thompson

COVID-19 Stimulus Funding

COVID-19 has created a unique situation, as many typical sources of revenue were required to close. Between 2018 and 2020, the City of Thompson has reduced its expenses by $1.9 million, and efforts continue into 2021. These reductions helped ensure that potential shortfalls in the 2020 and 2021 budgets were largely balanced out.

Nonetheless, like other municipalities, the City of Thompson received additional COVID-19 stimulus funding from provincial and federal sources. As the City of Thompson did not have significant shortfalls to recover, it was able to divert these funds on the following initiatives:

Funded ItemsFunding Amount
ICIP Funding Matching Dollars (Pending Projects)$433,900
Jumpstart Park100,000
Increase Street Sweeping Program60,000
Outdoor rink upgrades50,000
Beautifying Thompson (Flags, Christmas, etc.)40,000
RCAF Snowbirds40,000
City Efficiency Audit40,000
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design20,000
Trails- Biking, Running15,000
Playgrounds10,000
Community Gardens10,000
2021 COVID-19 Stimulus Funding Allocations

“Since the beginning of our elected term, City Council and administration have been working hard to ensure Thompsonites get more for their tax dollars. Those efforts are starting to come together, and while they mean a small increase now, they’re incredibly important for the long-term health and sustainability of our community. We can’t let COVID-19 derail our future.”

Colleen Smook, Mayor of Thompson

All Northern Manitobans Over 18 Years Of Age Now Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccination

Header Photo: Mayor Colleen Smook Receives her first vaccination dose on April 7, 2021.

As of April 26, 2021 at 11:45am, all Manitobans who live within the Northern Health Region, or who work in the region regularly, are eligible to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Individuals are encouraged to make their appointments by calling (toll-free) 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) or visiting https://protectmb.ca.

Prompt Vaccination Is Critical As Third Wave Looms

As variant cases become more prevalent in Manitoba and infections increase, the province is, in many ways, racing against the crest of a third wave to ensure vaccinations are delivered promptly.

In the announcement, Dr. Joss Reimer (medical lead of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force) stressed the importance of vaccination for Manitobans:

“The vaccine is one way we can slow the spread of this virus and control the third wave of COVID-19. We are seeing that everyone, including younger people, is experiencing more severe outcomes from COVID and it is important that we adjust our eligibility criteria to reflect what we know, so we can protect those at risk. More than one-third of Manitobans have been immunized, and I’d encourage everyone to do the same as soon as they are eligible.”

Dr. Joss Reimer, Vaccine Implementation Task Force, VACCINE ELIGIBILITY EXPANDING TO PROTECT ADULTS
IN NORTHERN MANITOBA, SEVEN OAKS WEST, Province of Manitoba, April 26, 2021

Looking Back: Cold Weather Shelters and COVID-19

With the worst of winter seemingly behind us in Thompson, we wanted to shed a spotlight on the Cold Weather Shelter program coordinated by the Thompson Homeless Shelter every winter.

Roughly 70 residents in Thompson are considered chronically homeless, but the Thompson Homeless can only accommodate 24 at a time. Though the Shelter-in-Place Program ran by the YWCA has accommodated an additional 25 residents in 2020/2021, that still leaves an excess of roughly 20 residents without homes who need to seek alternative shelter on a nightly basis.

When temperatures reached a critical threshold (in our case, -35C), the warming shelters at Thompson’s ice rinks continued to be used as cold weather shelters by the Thompson Homeless Shelter to accommodate this overflow of residents.

The shelter’s services were accessed 250 times by residents over the course of 30 days this year (sometimes by the same individual, multiple times).

Federal Reaching Home Funding Helped Purchase A New Van.

Through a grant from the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation and Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, the Thompson Homeless Shelter has purchased a new van for transporting people to the emergency shelters.

The van helped the Thompson Homeless Shelter to transport patients without homes to COVID-19 testing and other medical appointments, and offer transportation to cold-weather shelters more reliably when partners were not available.

Emergency Services Work Together To Get Residents to Warming Shelters.

Emergency cold weather shelters are located at the outdoor skating rinks, far from downtown. However, starting at 10:00pm, the shelter worked with Keewatin Tribal Council to provide transportation from the shelter downtown to the cold weather shelters, so that sheltering residents don’t need to make the journey.

If a resident is excessively intoxicated and poses a risk to themselves or others, they’re picked up by RCMP or CSO’s and taken to the RCMP holding cells in Thompson. Conversely, individuals who are being released from holding cells late in the night are dropped off directly to the cold weather shelters by RCMP officers if they’re open.

Thompson Fire and Emergency Services are also notified when the shelters open, so that families in distress can be transported to the shelters if they have nowhere else to turn.

Pandemics Are Tricky When It Comes to Emergency Shelter, But Hygiene Has Controlled The Spread.

Operating the Thompson Homeless Shelter and the cold weather shelters present a challenge during the pandemic particularly during the winter: turning people away is simply not an option when temperatures are frigid. Social distancing is challenging in the shelters, but staff have stressed masks and hand-washing when indoors.

Thankfully, Thompson has been lucky that transmission among our homeless population has been relatively low. Staff at the THS also monitored residents for potential risks and symptoms, and provided transportation to and from testing sites, vaccination appointments, and medical appointments more generally.