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Plans for Kilcona Park revamp unveiled

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Some northeast Winnipeg residents say the revamping of Kilcona Park is long overdue.

Change is coming, though, as the City of Winnipeg released its vision for the park at an open house at the Harbourview Complex on Nov. 6. A second open house is scheduled to take place at Kildonan Place Shopping Centre on Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Valley Gardens resident Bo Gajda said he used to bring his family to the park when his children were growing up, but has been less than enthused with recent visits to the park.

"I tried cross-country skiing probably better than five years ago, and I wasn’t impressed with the lack of decent trails, never mind any other facilities, so I haven’t come back, but I’d like to," Gajda said, noting he’s heard the trails have since improved and he plans to give them another try this winter. "It’s a beautiful area."

Major changes proposed as part of Phase 1 include relocating the sports fields from the west side of the park to the area just west of the Chris McCubbins Cross Country Trails, connecting the park’s main road with the Norris Road entrance, modifying the easternmost lake to allow for paddling and competitive boat races, and renovating the Harbourview Recreation Complex. As well, the plan proposes changing the boundaries of the dog park while adding a fence around the park.

Mission Gardens resident Gail Kauk, the past president of Transcona Trails Inc., said she uses the off-leash area of the dog park on occasion, but used to come to the park more often.

"We used to always come tobogganing and skating here, but with the way it’s falling apart, we haven’t done that in a number of years," Kauk said, noting she’s glad to see the improvements to the park’s athletic amenities.

Kilcona Park Dog Club president Donna Henry was concerned about initial proposals that recommended cutting the size of the park. She got in contact with area councillors, who recommended planners keep the park approximately the same size.

"On balance it’s, I’m not going to say right, but it’s pretty good," Henry said, adding one of the biggest changes proposed replaces one area of heavy tree cover with another.

Project manager Rob Zanewich agreed that the park is in need of attention, noting the city has looked into improving it for years. HTFC Planning and Design officially began Phase 1 of the planning process in January, including community consultation initiatives such as stakeholder visioning workshops, a letter drop that reached more than 500 area homes, focus group meetings, and the open houses.

"It’s been in the works for a number of years," Zanewich said. "It’s showing its wear at this point, and looking a little tired in some areas. It’s a regional park, so we feel it should garner some attention."

Zanewich will approach the project’s steering committee as well as area councillors Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), Russ Wyatt (Transcona), and Thomas Steen (Elmwood-East Kildonan) as he hopes to secure the estimated $10 million needed to complete Phase 1 of the project within five years. Phase 2, estimated to cost $7 million, is on the backburner until then. Zanewich said the entire project will take approximately 10 to 20 years to complete.

Gajda said while the bulk of the proposed changes have to do to with improving athletic experiences at the park, he’d like to see an entertainment area, similar to the Lyric Theatre at Assiniboine Park, for arts and culture enthusiasts.

For more information on the project, including the complete collection of slides shown at the open houses, visit
http://winnipeg.ca/ppd/planning/KilconaParkHarbourviewRecreationComplex/default.stm

Residents are able to provide feedback based on the presentation by emailing PPDUrbanDesign@winnipeg.ca or sending the comment form to HTFC Planning and Design, 500 – 115 Bannatyne Avenue East, Winnipeg, MB, R3B 0R3.

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