Province’s fleet of Amphibex machines could be sold to private purchaser

Manitoba says it plans to reissue a request for a proposal that could result in its fleet of Amphibex machines and ice-cutting equipment sold to a private buyer.

MANITOBA says it plans to reissue a request for proposal that could result in its fleet of Amphibex machines and ice-cutting equipment being sold to a private buyer.

Last year, the province put out an RFP and request for information seeking private-sector ideas for revamping its ice mitigation program, which sees the aquatic dredging machines sent out during the winter to break up river ice and reduce flood-causing jams.

While the province owns the equipment, the North Red Waterway Maintenance Corp. handles the operation and maintenance of the machines.

“The corporation basically exists for the sole purpose of providing ice jam mitigation services on the Red River,” North Red executive director Darrell Kupchik said this week — adding the corporation is a partnership between Selkirk, St. Andrews and St. Clements, three communities that experience “catastrophic” ice jam flooding.

North Red submitted a proposal to purchase the three Amphibexes and related equipment during the first RFP, and plans to do so again when the next request is issued.

“We were the highest-ranked proponent in the initial RFP, and then it was cancelled,” Kupchik said, adding the province provided little clarification on the matter.

“In the best interests of successful delivery of the ice-cutting program over the winter months, the RFP was cancelled,” a spokesman for the province wrote in an email to the Free Press.

North Red employs 25 staff during the winter and three or four casual employees during the off-season for maintenance and summer dredging work. Currently, the corporation is in a holding pattern because the province has moved the Amphibexes to an off-site storage facility.

“Our operating window is very small, so this equipment we have to ensure is ready to go when we hit the ice — we can’t be dealing with routine maintenance on the ice,” Kupchik said.