Smoke continues to hang over Winnipeg

A blanket of hazy smoke continues to hang over Winnipeg, it’s the result of forest fires in northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba.

Tuesday, Environment Canada issued an air quality alert for the city.

The move prompted some sports leagues to take a break from the field, and one childcare centre to keep their kids inside.

Executive Director of Assiniboine Children’s Centre, Marilyn Valgardson said last week some of her kids were experiencing symptoms from being exposed to the smoke.

“The more time we can spend outside the better and the happier we all are. But yesterday for sure we had some real concerns about the air quality,” said Valgardson.

“We actually cancelled all outdoor time for the children and staff, and tomorrow we’ve cancelled a very exciting trip to the zoo.”

Other outdoor activities in the city have been called off as well.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers sent out a tweet saying Tuesday’s practice was cancelled due to air quality.

Monday, the Manitoba Soccer Association (MSA) let players know that all sanctioned soccer activity would be cancelled until further notice.

Executive Director, Héctor Vergara said they have a policy in place for poor air quality.

“Obviously, people are disappointed because we were just about to return to play in our sport after COVID-19 had been an impact for so many months, especially in our indoor season,” said Vergara.

Vergara said the MSA will work with teams to reschedule the cancelled games as best they can.

Meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natalie Hasell, said they issue air quality statements to remind people that pollution concentrations in the air are high.

“We should see clearer skies by Thursday as the winds should be out of the south by then, and strong enough to actually push some of this stuff away,” said Hasell.

She said we could see more air quality warnings before the end of summer.

She said young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with heart or lung conditions are at a higher risk, and should avoid exposure to the smoke as much as possible.

President and CEO of the Lung Association of Manitoba, Neil Johnston said the smoky conditions don’t just affect those with a chronic lung disease.

“The chronic or long-term exposure to the small particles in the smoke can actually cause disease down the road, so it’s a major health impact on people,” said Johnston.

He recommends reducing the time you spend outdoors, and keeping the air in your home as clean as possible by making sure your air conditioner filter is clean, and turning it to a recirculate mode.

Valgardson said she’ll keep her kids inside as long as they need to.

"I’ll be happy to see more rain if that’s going to help clear the skies. But we will continue to have precautions in place for as long as we have to.”