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St. Norbert to see huge drainage improvements

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A little community in southwest Winnipeg is about to see some big upgrades.

St. Norbert is about to begin an almost $600,000 revitalization of the St. Norbert Communtiy Park and Farmers’ Market.

On Jan. 21 the federal government officially announced it would support the project with more than $250,000 at a ceremony at École Noel Ritchot in St. Norbert.

The project will also see over $120,000 in investments by the City of Winnipeg, as well as $40,000 from the province. The remainder of the costs will be covered by a variety of community organizations involved in the project.

Janice Lukes, project manager for the St. Norbert Water Stewardship Coalition, said the upgrades are going to address many of the flooding and water problems the community has long been faced with.

Lukes said the community will be taking an environmental approach to addressing these water problems by holding the water in bio-retention systems, which are designated holding systems.

The water will be gradually filtered through to areas where there is soil, prairie plants, grasses and trees, said Lukes.

The installation of the bio-retention systems will require a major overhaul of land on the École Noel Ritchot site, the St. Norbert Community Centre Site, the farmers’ market site, and the Behavioural Health Foundation Site, properties which are all owned by the St. Norbert Foundation.

Part of the drainage project includes adding more trees, plants and grasses to absorb the water, Lukes said.

"We’re benefitting because we’re creating this beautiful park-like setting," she said.

While half of the $500,000 is going toward the installation of the drainage systems, the other half will be going to improve community amenities, something the community has always wanted to do but struggled with due to the standing water issues.

"You can’t put benches in, you can’t put fitness trails in, you can’t improve ground surfacing until you deal with the foundation, which is the drainage," Lukes said.
The project will see upgrades and additions of fencing, pathways, seating plazas, benches and more.

"We’ve got like 10,000 people per week coming to the farmers’ market. They have to sit somewhere, they have to walk somewhere," Lukes said.

"It’s horrendous when it rains here."

Lukes said improvements to the site will benefit everyone, not just those living in St. Norbert.

"We’re going to be able to do an education program, and showcase the project to all the folks who come to the market," she said.

Robert Roehle, president of the St. Norbert Foundation, the umbrella organization overseeing the improvements, echoes Lukes’ excitement..

"We’ve discovered there is an environmentally friendly way to manage water. It’s not only good for the farmers’ market; it’s good for food production, for the school and education. It’s good for a lot of things," Roehle said.

"Anything that helps make St. Norbert a tourist destination is good."

Phase one of the project will start early this spring and run right through until November.

Organizers are also working on securing funding for a phase two – another $500,000 – to continue to add community amenities.

danielle.finch@canstarnews.com

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