Royalwood residents expressed mixed reactions over proposed plans to turn a local forested area into a park.
The city unveiled its vision for Shorehill Drive Park at an open house on April 24, with an opportunity for residents to provide feedback.
Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said developing the 10-acre parcel of city land into a park was always on the books.
He added the proposed plans were designed to preserve much of the land’s natural areas.
"The whole idea was to have it be the least intrusive as possible, protecting the environment, protecting the trees," he said.
Developments would include a toboggan hill, family picnic area, an open field with sod, low-impact trail, and a play area.
Jeff France, whose home backs onto the land, said he’s upset by the proposal to place sod in the area.
"There are very few places that are perfectly natural left in the city," he said.
"It would be a tragedy if it were just turned into Assiniboine Park-type land."
His common-law partner, Kaleigh Warden, said she’s worried about the impact the sod and playground could have on wildlife that live in the forest.
Resident Ron St. Mars — whose home also backs onto the forest — said he’s angry some trees will need to be cut down to make way for the play area.
He noted there is a lot of traffic in the area, which he said would make a park unsafe for children.
"I want a park for kids. I just don’t want a park there," he said.
Cordell Madrigga — who led a failed fight last year against the development of condominiums on land adjacent to the forest — suggested the park would stop history from repeating itself.
"Once that park is there, it’s there for life," said Madrigga. "If we don’t do this, they could develop that land."
A father of young children — who asked not to be named out of fear of causing conflict with neighbours — said Royalwood already has a large forest, Bois-des-esprits.
What the neighbourhood really needs, he said, is a play area.
"We have young kids. We’re looking for activities for them," he said, noting the park would actually be safer for children because the trees would create a buffer from the road.
Vandal said while he likes the plans, he won’t make a final decision until he hears back from residents.
"I want to do what the community wants," he said.
Erin Selby, who promised a play structure for residents during her re-election campaign last fall, said she is still committed to building that playground on other land in Royalwood.