Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MP wants grass field planted at Gordon Bell

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PAT Martin has seen for himself what a lack of green space has meant to Gordon Bell High School.

Martin's son, Corey, transferred out of the inner-city school in the mid-1990s to play football at Kelvin High School in River Heights.

Now, the New Democrat MP is trying to give Gordon Bell a field of its own.

Martin, who is running for re-election in the riding of Winnipeg Centre, wants to meet with officials of Canada Post to convince the Crown corporation to sell a plot of land adjacent to Gordon Bell that it bought last year.

Gordon Bell has only a paved yard on the Maryland Street side of the building -- no athletic field, no track, no green space.

Canada Post intends to build its new downtown letter carrier depot on the triangular property at the intersection of Broadway and Portage Avenue, the former site of the Midway Chrysler car dealership.

"I'm going to appeal to Canada Post's civic mindedness and ask them to consider releasing their option on this property as a gesture of goodwill to the community," said Martin.

As the area's MP, Martin had been briefed about Canada Post's plans to buy the land.

But the federal election candidate said he hoped to talk to officials this week about selling the land to the Winnipeg School Division for the use of Gordon Bell students.

"This is a school that's bursting at the seams and the only recreation field is a patch of asphalt," Martin said.

Community activists recently raised the issue of the absence of fields on Gordon Bell's property, even publishing a piece about the effect of a concrete schoolyard on students.

Last year, Gordon Bell had 959 students, in grades 7 to 12.

The Winnipeg School Division acknowledged efforts to plant a grass field next door to the school have come exclusively from the community.

But a spokeswoman admitted school officials would consider a new field "unbelievably wonderful."

A spokeswoman for Canada Post said construction of the new depot was scheduled to begin next year, and added that school officials would have to make a formal demand for the land in question.

"We realize we've purchased a prime piece of real estate," said Kathi Neal. "It's perfect for our needs. Unless there's a formal proposal, we can't really respond to (calls for a school field)."

joe.paraskevas@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 6, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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