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Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - June 29, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba A3 SATURDAY, JUNE 29, 2002 Local GOT A NEWS TIP? You can reach us at 571-7430 or toll-free 1-877-786-5786 E-mail: opinioti(a)brandonsun.comProjects spruce up low-cost housing By Rod Nickel Brandon Sun Shortly after one major housing project collapsed, a series of others are set to begin. Downtown Brandon lost out on 60 units planned tor Pacific Avenue when the developer tailed to finalize financing earlier this month. But 13 projects announced yesterday that will cash in on incentive programs neatly take its place, renovating 65 units. The projects will mostly fix up existing units and create a few new ones. “Rehabilitation of existing apartment units is critical to the success of our neighbourhood revi talization and renewal efforts,” says John Everitt, vice-chair of Neighbourhood Renewal Corp. As a condition of accessing public funds, land lords must keep rent to set levels. Two bedroom apartments must rent for no more than $550 a month including electricity, while single-bedroom units rent for $430 including Hydro. Developer Van-Bi Lee, who received money for two of his projects, says there’s great demand for affoidable rental units. “I don’t see any problem filling them up.” He opened 11 units in another building last month and has already filled six. The federal government will contribute $451,100, while provincial programs add another $305,700. That works out to an average of $11,600 per unit, with developers paying the remaining renovation costs. Hie money comes from unspent budgets for Brandon housing projects from last year. There is still about $600,000 available for other projects left behind by the failed Pacific Avenue project, says Merv Pedlow, general manager of Brandon and Area Planning District. Instead of concentrating redevelopment on one site, the latest projects are spread around the city core, mostly downtown. “Something’s happening. Not enough, but something’s happening,” says Rosser Coun. Marion Robinsong. “Taking care of downtown is a full-time business that never ends.” Robinsong says government still needs to create housing for people who need cheaper rent still, particularly welfare clients. Housing Minister Tim Sale says the province has rent supplements available for families and seniors on welfare, but not individuals. The province encourages welfare clients to double up to pool shelter allowances, he says. The long-term solution is further increases to minimum wage and a national housing policy, he says. “The vast majority of people who have trouble affording housing aren’t on assistance, they’re the working poor.” The money committed yesterday will help fund: • 16 units at 603 11th St. • 12 units at 238 Rosser Ave. • Sa units at 363 Eighth St. • Renovations to a four-plex at 825 Rosser Ave. • Four units at 512 12th St. • Three units at 258 First St. • Three units at 111 First St. • Two units at 430 Princess Ave. • Two units at 702 12th St. • Two units at 240 First St. • Two units at 435 15th St. • Three units at 1-1224 Victoria Ave. • Six units at 457 Ninth St. Scientists work on variable fertilizer rates By Kyla Duncan Brandon Sun Local scientists could be taking the first step in making farming more efficient and economically viable. “ The big trick here is how to make these farms economical in today’s world of very low grain prices and low commodity prices,” says Leslie Jacobson, chan man of the Manitoba Ruial Application Council Inc. “We’ve got to do more with less and this is one of the ways we can do that.” Scientists at the Brandon Research Centre are trymg to come up with a vanable-rate fertilizer system — one which would allow farmers to apply more fertilizer to areas which need it and less to others. “They’re looking at a process on how to amalgamate all the technologies that are out there to be able to put a system in place to do the precision farming,” says Jacobson. “If there is an amount of excess fertilizer somewhere then (farmers) could cut back so there is an optimum amount of fertilizer on the total field.” The scientists are looking for differences in yields of barley, oats, canola and wheat which could be explained by landscape position, soil properties, weed population and plant disease. MRAC has been funding the project for the last five years and recently extended it another three because it’s thrilled with what results could mean for farmers. “This will reduce our input costs as far as fertilizer is concerned. Further down the road we could probably use the same (study) for herbicide and pesticide application,” Jacobson says. “This is the leading edge of technology, to bt. able to do more precise pie. :muu tat ming on our commercial latins ut Manitoba.” The group is also confident it can develop a system tor variable nitrogen management, based on soil test data from benchmarks combined with plant performance. Results from the past five years and the next three will not be released until the study is complete. When it is, farmers can access the information through MRAC’s Web site at www.nuac.com. “This is an important feature for farmers to be able to utilize this,” says Jacobson. He says MRAC, a federal body aimed to help farmers make farming more viable and sustainable, supports innovative projects like this. “These are the projects we really like to see where they are gouig to create more economic stability on our farms and being more environmentally friendly to ensure we’ve got the safest and highest quality food for our consumers,” Jacobson says. Fanners move to seed more specialty crops By Kyia Duncan Blandon Sun Manitoba fanners are ahead of the game when it comes to adapting to market trends. Statistics Canada reports Manitoba producers have broken seveial records this year for seeded areas with special crops. “Manitoba this year was the most interesting provmce to look al . Ut all the provinces, Manitoba had the most dramatic shifts in terms of acreage swuigs, for example decreasing wheat (growth), but a big increase in soybean (production),” says Brent Wilson, grain analyst with Statistics Canada. Wilson says farmers have been motivated by the improving prices of specialty crops and the need tor clop diversification, freaking seeding records this year. "I think it kind of mdicates the resilience and flexibility of the producer, particularly in Manitoba, being able to react to market trends,” Wilson says. A survey of 4,650 Manitoba farmers conducted from May 24 to June 4 shows huge increases rn the seeding aieas of canary seed, soy beans, dry white beans and coloured beans — breaking Canadian records for these crops. Wilson couldn’t give specifics about which areas of the province broke records, but says the Brandon area does have a large amount of acreage dedicated to soybeans and other specialty crops. “Brandon or the southwest corner of Mamtoba is more cereal and oil seed production ... the increase in production of coloured beans and soy beans occurred mostly in that area,” says Wilson. Wilson says Mamtoba t’ann-eis also had fewer piaiitmg challenges than other provmces. “Mamtoba has last year and this year, relative to say central Saskatchewan and Alberta, had pretty good growmg conditions and I think that enabled them to grow more specialty crops,” says Wilson. “Conditions were better in Manitoba than in other provinces by a long shot. ” Wilson says Mamtoba producer were among the first to start planting specialty crops and diversify their farms because of low gram prices and transportation challenges. “They have kind of been at a freight disadvantage for the several couple of years, and I think more apt to look at different opportunities like flax, like canary seed that go to different markets,” says Wilson. Statistics Canada will release details of the study next year. Information on the production of principal field crops will be available at the end of August. Program promotes rural life By Kyi a Duncan Blandon Sun A small group of people has stopped talking about a dwindling rural population and started doing something about it. “Every small community in Manitoba is suffering because as our population dwindles ... we have fewer people that support the community. We have to find ways to bring more people here,” says Ruth Mealy, economic development officer for the Turtle Mountain Community Development Corporation. “We’re just trying to take it that one or two steps further, where the idea becomes a reali-ty.” Mealy and a group of about nine other concerned citizens from Boissevain, Minto and Elgin have started the Small Farms Project — aimed at showcasing the viability of small farms, which they hope will generate interest among people thinking of staying, going or coming to rural areas. “We’re hoping we’ll have some guoii viable models so people can tind a viable way lo remain in agriculture and also so our young people can look at the models and see that farming as a business and as a way of life is viable,” Mealy says. The group is working with about $6,000 in funding from Manitoba Aguculiure and Food and the I urtle Mountain Conservation District to put togelhci Ii difieient models of successful small fauns in the Turtle Mountain area. They hope to put together holistic management models, diversification models, crops models and organics models. “If a farmer is looking for options, we’re hoping they will look at these models and find one they can adapt to then operations, says Mealy. The group has just hired a consultant to research and assemble the models by late fall. Once they are complete, the models will be given to farmers, real estate agents, schools, uni versities and anyone else who wants them. A number of retiring tanners have had to put their tai ms up tor sale because younger generations don’t think a small farm could be viable. “These older farms aren’t necessarily that large and when they come back on the market it’s a different reality than when they were originally purchased," hays Se oil Day, Boissevain agiiculiuie icpiesentative and gioup member. “We’re looking for ways and ideas to give these small farms some incentives, ideas and example that the new owners can use in making them work.” A number of European farmers have moved to the Turtle Mountain District in the last several yeais and Day says die mod els might attract more European buyers and Canadian buyers. Day says the models will not only help farmers looking to buy, but farmers who are looking for new ways to make their small farms profitable. “We have a lot of small farm cis that aren t thinking of getting out of it, that value the lifestyle, that make concessions to do what they do and they’re looking for ideas on what to do with their smaller than average production base,” Day says “Because they’ll be tangible, real examples from the area, they’ll be applicable to other farms in the area ” Day says he is hearing from a number or tunnels who aie uitciested in participating rn the project. “(Farmers) think it’s time small farms were recognized and they’re will to share with us how they make a living and have a life on a small farm,” Day says. Day says the group is looking for farms producing convention a1 crops on a below average pio-duction base “We’re not caught up with the illusion that we’re going to change the world here. We’re just trying to do something that focuses on small farms and brings some of the attention back on small farms,” Day says. Beating the heat BkUCt BUMS I fc AD/ BRANDON SUN TOP PHOTO: Chris Hagman laughs as his seven-month-old daughter, Kendra, splashes her mother, Dawn Hagman, while cooling off in Lake Minnedosa yesterday afternoon. I he Hagmans got an early start on the tong weekend as they planned to spend time at their cottage in iVfiiinedosa. LOUN CORNhAU/BRANDON SUN RIGHT PHOTO: Warren Hardy kicks up his heels yesterday afternoon in Princess Park. The fountain offered a cool place for Warren and his sister in the midst of a heat wave. BR UCI BUMS! EAD/BRANCX3N SUN BOTTOM PHOTO: Amy Peaty, ll, watches as her brother Jason Peaty, right, helps their stepfather, David Ellis, tie down an innertube to their car at Minnedosa Tire yesterday afternoon. Amy, who had recently undergone heart surgery at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto, was excited to be spending the weekend at Minnedosa Beach. ;