Matt Allard believes the community can play a big part in the destiny of Provencher Park.
Allard, 31, is president of the Old St. Boniface Residents’ Association, which was recently involved in a Nov. 27 public open house on the park’s future.
The event, which was led by landscape architect Susan Campbell, was intended to provide information and gauge feedback to the draft Provencher Park Master Plan, a blueprint for a potential makeover of the local green space.
Local resident Allard said the improvements will be funded initially by proceeds from the sale of the former police station at 227 Provencher Blvd. — a move which was recommended by Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) and approved by city council last year. Allard said additional funding may have to be raised depending on how the plan progresses.
The open house built upon a community consultation held in May at which community members were asked to brainstorm and share their thoughts on the need for recreation, leisure and sports in the Old St. Boniface area.
Allard said the community’s vision for the park includes washrooms, community gardens, a bandstand/speaker’s corner, a farmers’ market, a spray pad and interpretive signage.
"We want community stakeholders to brainstorm and tell us what they want," Allard said, noting the city and other neighbourhood organizations such as Transition Saint-Boniface are involved in the process.
"Based on our collective vision so far, the master plan is worth around $1 million, but only $400,000 has been identified, so now we need to decide which projects to prioritize.
"Our ultimate goal is to maximize the use of the park. Another nice thing about the master plan is that instead of working on each component in isolation, we can look at the park as a whole. Another priority that was made loud and clear was the importance of preserving the green space."
The next step is for stakeholders to analyze the project through a "cost lens" and identify more potential funding sources, Allard said.
"The city wants to move relatively quickly, so we’re looking at making these plans a reality. So far, it’s been a great process, as the community has come together. It’s been inspiring. In May, we had a blank slate and now there are so many ideas in this plan," he said.
While Allard is confident the consultation process will ultimately yield the right results for the community and beyond, his four-year-old daughter, Camille, has a clear vision for the park’s future.
"I want a really, really big slide," she said.
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