Broken barge leaves Shoal Lake 40 residents stranded, resident says

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A barge that acts as a lifeline for the First Nation that provides Winnipeg with its clean drinking water has broken again, leaving several residents stranded for the second time this year.

The ferry serving Shoal Lake 40 broke down Friday afternoon on its way to pick up residents completing a grocery trip on the mainland, says Linda Redsky, a Shoal Lake 40 band member.

Redsky told CBC drivers of almost 30 vehicles were waiting to be picked up when issues with the boat’s hydraulics prevented it from launching at Shoal Lake 40.

Now, those people are stuck and waiting to get home. One individual has been there since 3 p.m., she said, and others have already hauled some of their groceries across the ice.

Repair parts could take four days, resident says

For several months a year, the boat is the only way for residents to get in and out of their community, which straddles the Manitoba-Ontario border.

In the winter, there is an ice road to the community, but it isn’t up and running yet this year — and in the past, people have fallen through and died while trying to cross.

The First Nation, which has been under a boil water advisory for 19 years, has been isolated from the mainland for more than a century as a result of construction of an aqueduct that carries fresh water to Winnipeg.

Redsky wrote on Facebook that mechanics told residents it would take four days for the right parts to come in to fix the boat.

She said residents across the lake are trying to launch their own boats to help their stranded neighbours, but the lake is freezing too quickly.

“One boat tried launching but the motor wouldn’t stay running … and the ice is already frozen where it launched earlier,” she wrote in a post on Facebook. “Now we wait.”

CBC has request comment from the office of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett.

The federal government is responsible for licensing the barge and inspecting it for safety.

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Broken barge leaves Shoal Lake 40 residents stranded, resident says

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