A popular local outdoor landmark is set for a swooping makeover.
In light of the city’s 2013 capital budget plans, more than $2 million will be spent on improvements to St. Vital Park, it was recently announced.
The upgrades will include $1 million for St. Vital Park’s duck pond pavilion, $300,000 to replace the summer washroom facilities and $750,000 to replace the park’s boat launch, which will include riverbank stabilization, an improved dock and enhanced lighting.
"That may seem a lot of money for the boat launch, but a fair bit of money is going to stabilize the riverbank and pathways, which have been closed a lot in recent years," said Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital).
And a wing concept has been chosen as the winning design for the new pavilion, following a public open house last May: "That will be the real star of the show," Mayes said, noting three designs were shortlisted.
The design will represent a bird’s wing in flight and the roof will provide two distinct, covered picnic zones, each with a different view of the pond. The interior layout will include built-in seating and the new washroom area.
Mayes said the slated upgrades are much-needed as time has caught up with the popular visitor spot.
"The pavilion is close to 40-years-old and it’s functional, but certainly not inviting and not great for winter time. Hopefully the new facility will be something to last another 40 years, as it’s a well-used park and it’s the main building there," he said.
"And I know the washrooms are old because I used to use them when cross-country running in high school in the 1970s."
"For me, as for many families, the park has been enormously important, as I came here with my parents and now I’m bringing my eight-year-old son here," Mayes said, noting some of the funding for the work was set aside in previous budgets and his predecessor Gord Steeves was committed to the park and worked to get some of the funding in place.
Area resident and mother-of-two Stacey Denby thinks the upgrades are a "great idea and most definitely needed."
"It is such a beautiful, peaceful place and we spent a lot of time there when the kids were younger," Denby said.
"We usually like to visit the park a couple of times in the summer and we love the fall season there. We’ve taken quite a lot of photos there from time to time. We would walk the trails and have fished off the shore as well there. I look forward to seeing the end result."
Mayes said work is slated to begin on the pavilion and boat launch this year, while the washrooms will be this year or next.