December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The province will spend $4 million over the next few years to upgrade Grand Beach.
At the top of the list is a better wastewater treatment system and getting rid of a derelict hotel to make the beachfront more appealing to visitors, a plan St. Clements Mayor Steve Strang said would help the Lake Winnipeg community become the "Banff" of Manitoba.
It will also include construction of a lake-front picnic plaza where the hotel now stands—it will be demolished this fall—and the addition of a new playground. The playground will use natural features like cottonwood trees and boulders reclaimed from flood-hit St. Ambroise Provincial Park on Lake Manitoba.
"It’s a canvas waiting to be painted," Strang said today.
The upgrade plan was announced this morning by Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh.
"We want to make sure we make strategic investments Manitobans can enjoy," Mackintosh said. "We want the best bang for our buck."
The new plaza will also reflect the historical connection to the railway which at one time ferried passengers to the beach and its dance pavilion before the Highway 59 and the automobile took over in the 1950s.
Mackintosh said the projects will be completed by 2020 and will also include the electrification of additional campsites.
He said there were more than 430,000 visits to Grand Beach Provincial Park last year, up 14 per cent over the last five years.
Strang said the improvements to the Grand Beach and Grand Marais over the next few years, plus other projects like a new medical centre, will attract even more visitors and permanent residents.
In turn, he said that will give the municipality more ammunition to ask the province to twin Highway 59 to Grand Beach. The project has been on the books for several years, but to proceed an agreement has to be reached with Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.