“This is the worst day of my life.”

On Friday Cliff Cullen, the minister of justice and the attorney general, came to Dauphin to announce an investment into the courthouse and the closure of the Dauphin jail.

Dauphin mayor, Allen Dowhan wasn’t expecting the announcement.

“No indication was given. We knew they were coming to make an announcement. I’m a very positive person and I thought, well, maybe something on the rehabilitation centre we’ve been talking about for many years. But when the minister made the announcement, I was shocked, I was shocked and in disbelief. We are a service centre and they’re taking jobs away from our community, our region, and we can’t rebound overnight. They are young families that are being affected, and that’s what really bothers me.”

He adds that there were no plans for anything to help cushion the blow and this is a cut and dry approach.

Dowhan says this will have an economic impact that’ll shrink the region in population and assessments in the community will decrease causing a financial burden to all municipalities and to the City and RM of Dauphin.

After the announcement was made, the city had a meeting with the minister.

"In our presentation to minister Cullen, we asked if there’s any chance for a reversal and he never answered. We kept on that, both whether we’ll be formatting plans on how to pursue a revision or a turnaround of this announcement. That’s our prime goal now, how we’re going to do it I really don’t know.”

Dowhan says they are going to work diligently to try and reverse the decision and try to get new opportunities in the community.

“This is such a devastating blow. It equates to, we figure, about 500 and some people that’s spouses and children.”

For more information on the jail closure, click here, and if you’d like to read the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union’s reaction, click here.

The province announced a commitment to economic development in the Dauphin and Parkland region.

Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler, says the Manitoba government will continue to lay a foundation for private-sector investment and job creation in Dauphin and the wider Parkland region with several exciting initiatives this year.

“Our government’s Manitoba Works plan has established a target for creation of 40,000 new jobs in the province over the next four years and a key part of the plan is attracting new investment to communities throughout rural Manitoba including Dauphin and Parkland,” said Eichler.

“We are taking a whole-of-government approach to economic development and job creation, and are thrilled to see the board of Manitoba’s new Rural Economic Development Agency at the table to help achieve our target.”

Eichler adds that through red tape reduction, the decrease to the provincial sales tax and an overall investment of more than $40 million in the region since 2018, the Manitoba government continues to foster the economic conditions that will ensure an even stronger future for Dauphin and the Parkland region.

In a press release, the government included a list of what they’ll do in 2020 to position the region for economic growth:

• The Economic Development Office and the Rural Economic Development Agency will hold a regional meeting with Team Manitoba strategic partners North Forge, World Trade Centre Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba in Dauphin in February.

• The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with the Dauphin and District Chamber of Commerce, will host an economic development tour and mission to the area this spring to connect potential investors with opportunities.

• Travel Manitoba and Dauphin Economic Development and Tourism are discussing opportunities for a place-branding project to support the tourism industry and to position Dauphin to attract increased private-sector investment, and Travel Manitoba will also hold a regional tourism workshop and will work closely with the Dauphin region to market tourism products and opportunities.

• The province will undertake a labour market study for the Dauphin area to provide a tool to support business expansion and to attract investment and will engage Dauphin Economic Development and Tourism in this process.

• Ongoing supports for business and industry in the region will be available through Manitoba Economic Development and Training for training opportunities, as well as for tax increment financing and tax credit programs, as these programs support business expansion and the attraction of investment to the region.

After the news of the closure of the Dauphin Corrections Centre, the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union is looking for answers.

President of the MGEU, Michelle Gawronsky wonders if the government had taken a look at the impact that closing the jail would be.

“It’s going to have a significant impact on our members, the inmates of the facility it’s going to have a huge impact on the justice system across Manitoba,” said Gawronsky. “Our members are upset, they’re scared, there’s such a huge range of emotions right now. They’re scared for what this means for them, for their futures, for their careers, their families, the community that they live in. This is going to have far-reaching arms.”

Gawronsky says there was no consultation with the union or the employees they represent. 80 people are currently employed at the Dauphin jail.

She added that MGEU was only informed of the closure the day before it was announced, with employees finding out the day of the announcement.

Gawronsky says that while there is nothing that would make the announcement better, more time for employees to prepare would have been appreciated.

“Right now, employees are left with about 60 days to figure out what’s going to happen to their future,” said Gawronsky. “Some of the questions that have already started coming in for me are couldn’t they extend it a little bit longer? What about other options? How are we going to be able to move? What happens to our house here in Dauphin? There are so many questions.”

One thing that also concerns Gawronsky is the effect that losing 80 plus families will have on Dauphin, and what it will do for crime rates in the Parkland.

The MGEU is hoping that the government keeps its promise to withhold the collective bargaining agreement in place when relocating the workers.

Today the provincial government announced the century-old Dauphin courthouse will be undergoing major renovations as part of ongoing efforts to revitalize and modernize Manitoba’s courts.

The courthouse will be expanded and fully renovated at an estimated cost that exceeds 11 million dollars.

The money will go towards enhancing courthouse security, including more holding cells, to keep the public and court staff safe while improving the efficiency of court proceedings, improving interior and exterior accessibility, including accessible washrooms, and more accessible public, court, and administrative spaces, improving video-conferencing and meeting spaces for lawyers and their clients, and new administrative and office spaces for court staff, sheriff services, and the judiciary.

The design of the courthouse will be finalized in the coming months, with plans to minimize disruptions during renovations.

Today the provincial government made an announcement that the Dauphin Correctional Centre will be closing.

Justice Minister and Attorney General, Cliff Cullen, says they’ve decided to use the corrections facility to make the renovation to the courthouse.

“So, we will be taking the corrections facility out of operation over the next several months.”

The reasoning behind the closing of the jail is that the Dauphin facility is the oldest in Manitoba and doesn’t meet modern correctional needs.

80 staff at the jail are affected by the closing and were informed of the closing today. The union was notified yesterday.

Cliff Cullen says the goal is to provide employment for all employees if possible and the Manitoba government will be working with the Civil Service Commission and the union to find creative ways to do so while respecting the rights and obligations contained in the collective agreement.

The 60 people in custody in Dauphin will be moved to one of the six other adult correctional facilities located throughout the province. There are currently about 250 openings at the other facilities following an overall decline in the provincial inmate population.

The two closest facilities to Dauphin are Brandon and The Pas.

The Manitoba Public Utilities Board announced on Wednesday that primary gas rates in the province will go down as of February 1st.

The decrease comes after the board approved Centra Gas Manitoba’s application.

According to the board, rates will be set at $0.0863/m3 down from $0.0910/m3.

The change is expected to save customers $10 a year. Customers who have a fixed-term, fixed-price contract with Centra or a private broker won’t be affected.

The province’s primary gas rates will be reviewed again on May 1st.

More information can be found on the Public Utilities Board’s website.

After a successful open house yesterday, Mountain View Villa in Dauphin has another chance for you to come by and check things out today.

The 55-plus senior's complex has a handful of affordable 1 and 2 bedroom units waiting for you to move in when you're ready to transition to a peaceful, easier life in Dauphin, with a great view.

When you make the move to Mountain View Villa, your rent will include heat, hydro, water, and air conditioning. Each unit also comes with a fridge, stove, dishwasher, laundry machines, a private balcony, and more.

There were already groups of people waiting for tours of the units when we stopped by at the start of yesterday's open house. Today's open house starts at 10 this morning and goes til noon.

You can view pictures, floor plans, rent details and find contact information at Mountain View Villa's website

The old Manitoba Hydro building in Grandview has been purchased with the intentions of creating a distillery.

Manager of the project, Pierce Cairns, says in 2018 and 2019 they were hitting a lot of walls until the Manitoba Hydro building went up for sale.

“It was interestingly one of the first places we looked at back in 2017 as a possible site. But they had a lot of environmental assessments and things to get through before they could actually list it to the public. So we jumped on it as soon as it was listed and came into possession of it just before Christmas. Trucking ahead in 2020, it’ll be getting all of those regulations lined up, some regulations to the building, and then hopefully we will have some local distillery product being pumped out by the end of the year.”

To start with, the distillery would produce vodka and gin, with whiskey and rum coming later.

Cairns says a part of the project is the idea to have a restaurant attached to the distillery.

“If everything goes as planned, we’ve been talking with a red seal chef out of Calgary who’s very interested in moving out and setting up a, he calls himself World Comfort Food, and basically a little bit higher-end restaurant, someone that’ll do catering, be open, and also act as the tasting room for the distillery. So that would kind of save us a little bit on overhead but then double up on the cool factor, tourism element for both of us.”

While the distillery has the goal of being open by the end of the year, the restaurant wouldn’t be expected to be in operation until summer 2021.

The province’s Auditor General says that Travel Manitoba does not have the proper systems in place to help achieve Manitoba’s tourism goals.

In a report for the Management of Provincial Tourism, Auditor General Norm Ricard says that Travel Manitoba needs to focus on implementing the plans and strategies it has laid out, and report on the results.

The Crown Corp has been the leading marketing and development body for tourism in the province since 2017.

Ricard found that while Travel Manitoba had outlined goals and objectives in their plans, they did not consider risks that could affect tourism. He noted that Churchill is one of the drivers of tourism to the province, but yet the plan says that climate change is a low risk to tourism in the area.

“The loss of the polar bear’s environment due to climate change would have a significant impact on tourism,” said Ricard.

Ricard adds that there is a lack of specifics on how the plans would be implemented.

The audit also found that while Travel Manitoba consulted with businesses to incorporate feedback into the plans, they did not consult with the government.

Tourism makes up the third-largest source of revenue in the province behind agriculture and mining.

Manitoba sees nearly 11.4 million people come to visit and spend over $1.6 billion during their stays yearly Travel Manitoba’s goal is to reach an annual average of 12.6 million visitors and $2.2 billion in tourism spending by 2022.

The province’s chief public health officer says that Manitoba Health is ready for any possible deadly infection outbreak.

Dr. Brent Roussin announced today that public health officials are monitoring the coronavirus infection that has resulted in the lockdown of three cities in China.

600 people have been infected with the disease, resulting in the deaths of 17 people.

One case of coronavirus was confirmed in Washington State, in a person who had recently been in China.

Roussin said that even though the risk of contracting coronavirus in Manitoba is low, health workers are asked to be vigilant with clients' travel histories.

He added that anyone who heads to a hospital with a fever and acute respiratory illness and has travelled to parts of China, or have been around people who have travelled within the past two weeks will be tested.

If a person is showing symptoms of coronavirus, they will be placed in a private room alone and out under precautions.

Manitoba is at low risk for coronavirus because there are no direct flights to China.

If a person is suspected of carrying the virus, all medical staff must report the case to Manitoba Public health.

Goose Lake High School in Roblin has closed its doors temporarily due to “challenges with their heating system”.

Classes have been moved to the Roblin Community Centre until the problem can be fixed.

Students and teachers were moved to the community centre this morning after sending a letter to parents saying that “student learning and classroom instruction will continue at the temporary location”.

The school is hoping that the heating system will be fixed in the next couple of days.

Due to the venue change, the school is providing transportation to students who normally walk to school, to help them get to the community centre.