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.

The province announced today that an additional 12 spaces will be added to help treat dialysis patients at the Dauphin Regional Health Centre.

The enhanced service includes the hiring of two trained renal staff to expand operating hours to include an evening shift.

Dauphin MLA Brad Michaleski says the enhanced care will be good for people in the Parkland.

“To expand the capacity in here, I know the families and the people that are dealing with dialysis, they’re already dealing with an anxious situation and having to travel out of the region just compounds that,” said Michaleski. “So having expanded capacity here in Dauphin, means compassionate care closer to home.”

The additional spaces will be available on March 1st and will expand the weekly patient capacity to 36 from 24.

Expanding the patient capacity in Dauphin is part of the province’s Clinical and Preventive Services Plan, which is aimed at decreasing road travel and wait times for patients in Manitoba.

Michaleski added that the recent announcement adds on to several changes at the DRHC, from the MRI to the revamped Emergency Department.

“Those are significant commitments to improve healthcare,” said Michaleski. “And now this dialysis, it’s about treatment, and getting those treatments brought back here and making them available in the Parkland.”

Around 14 percent of Manitobans live with kidney disease, and about one-third of them develop kidney failure in their lifetime.

Stats Canada says in the fourth quarter of 2019, the price of legal cannabis rose, while the price of illegal cannabis fell.

The price of legal cannabis rose to $10.30 per gram in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to $9.69 from a year earlier.

In the fourth quarter of 2018 illegal cannabis was priced at $6.44, by the end of 2019 that price fell to $5.73.

Quebec has the lowest price of legal cannabis, selling at $7.88 per gram, New Brunswick has the highest price of legal cannabis at $11.36 per gram, Manitoba has the 4th cheapest legal weed at $10.56.

On the side of illegal cannabis, New Brunswick has the cheapest at $4.90 per gram, Ontario has the most expensive at $6.21 per gram, and weed in Manitoba is second most expensive at $6.15 per gram.

When taking the average of legal and illegal cannabis prices, Manitoba has the most expensive weed in Canada, selling for $9.12 per gram on average. Quebec’s average is the cheapest at $6.24.

Manitoba Ag Days 2020 launched the new Innovation Showcase, featuring 32 of the latest and greatest ideas in agriculture.

32 participants competed in 7 different categories to prove their invention was the best.

The winners were:

Agronomics:

1st Place- NutriScan by ATP Nutrition

2nd Place- Crystal Green by Taurus Ag Marketing

Farm Safety:

1st Place - The Tiregrabber

2nd Place - Bin Safe System by Setter Manufacturing Ltd.

Agribusiness Services:

1st Place- Combyne by Farmlead.com

Agriculture Equipment:

1st Place- Terraformer by Ag Shield

2nd Place – Meterveyor by Riddell Seed

Animal and Livestock:

1st Place- MBS Energizer by Gallagher

2nd Place- AgriRepel by Protexia Plastics co: Thunderstruck Sales and Marketing

Ag Tech:

1st Place- BinAdapt + Advanced Thermostat by Adaptive Agriculture Solutions Inc.

2nd Place- Recon Spreadsense by Intelligent Ag

Farm Built Solutions:

1st Place- Manitoba Gate by Triple Pass Welding

2nd Place- Sabre Clamp by Airguard Incorporated

The Best In Show Award was presented to Mazergroup.

Tune in to the Noon Ag Show with Josh Sigurdson next week, to hear from the winners of the Innovation Showcase.