Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

School division puts 'dog poop park' on the market

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A prime piece of River Heights green space is on the market.

Winnipeg School Division is disposing of the former Sir John Franklin School site on Grosvenor Avenue between Lanark and Beaverbrook streets. Known locally as dog poop park, the site is now a tyke soccer field and a green space where dogs unofficially run off-leash.

"It's a prime piece of property," said Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry), a former WSD school board chairman.

Orlikow said he's not aware of any particular group that wants the site but, "I've had a few chats with residents, concerned about what will go there.

"A large-scale apartment block would be quite unacceptable... losing all the green space would be problematic," he said.

Orlikow said the soccer pitch is used heavily and ultimate frisbee groups are interested.

The division closed the school in 1989 and demolished it in 1992. Trustees launched a review process three years ago after concluding the space would not be needed in future for a school.

Public consultation has led to a priority list of potential new owners of the property: WSD must first offer the property to the city as green space for recreational purposes and then to the city for use as community recreation facilities.

If the city declines, next in line is single family, detached infill housing, followed by larger development, such as a daycare centre or seniors housing with parking.

The division noted there would be a provision for an unspecified amount of green space retained under any future use.

The site is not officially an off-leash park for dogs, Orlikow said, and that's been a problem, with the division fencing it off and dog owners finding a way to get through. "It's a constant conflict for the school division," he said.

The school board made the decision this month to dispose of the property. Earlier, WSD posted online an information package on the process it is following, at http://ww.wsd1.org/board/minutes_pdf/2010/SirJohnFranklinPropertyReviewUpdateMarch2010.pdf

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 27, 2010 A2

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