Winnipeg unable to sell 409,000 sandbags

The City of Winnipeg has not found a buyer for its excess 409,000 sandbags.

The city tried to sell the surplus sandbags after flooding levels did not meet expected levels this spring. The municipality put out a Request for Expression of Interest last month for the sandbags, but has not found anyone willing to buy them, according to the Winnipeg Sun.

The city expected it would need to make 500,000 sandbags in anticipation of flooding, expecting the Red River, which winds through the city, would rise to 6.25 metres in parts. But residents only needed 11,000 bags.

Since the city’s request closed without a single bidder, officials have reached out to construction companies to see if any of them would take them for free.

City officials say the municipality is now looking to give away the bags or to pay for their disposal.

“I think with 400,000 bags, I would assume that we are probably going to open it to the public at some point,” Michael Cantor, Winnipeg’s manager of streets maintenance, told the Winnipeg Sun. “We’ll see how it goes, how many have been taken (by construction companies) and we’ll act after that.”

The provincial government had forecast that the Red River could rise to levels of flooding that happened in 2009 if there was “unfavourable weather”. But in April, the government announced that favourable weather had slightly reduced the flood threat for the river.

City officials have said that sometimes the city holds onto sandbags for future floods, but the surplus bags need to be replaced as they are more than seven years old.