ABOUT 11 per cent of city-owned parks and open space assets are nearing the end of their useful lives — and it would cost about $102 million to replace them.
That’s the dismal conclusion of a 2021 city staff assessment, which ranks that portion of parks amenities to be in poor or very poor condition. The assets that are evaluated include everything from park benches and structures to boulevard trees.
The report found more than 60 per cent of the assets were in good or very good condition, 25 per cent were "fair" and four per cent were not yet rated.
The City of Winnipeg’s parks and open space system includes about 3,200 hectares of parkland and 200 hectares of green fields, which have seen similar rankings in previous years.
"Our parks and recreation spaces still need significant investment," said Coun. Scott Gillingham, the city’s finance chairperson.
Gillingham said the city is chipping away at some repairs, with proposals to spend $2.6 million to rehabilitate Kilcona Park and $700,000 to create a city-wide master green space plan both proposed in the preliminary 2022 budget.
The councillor said it can be quite costly to maintain green space and acknowledged the city can’t address all deficiencies in one fell swoop.
"We cannot afford to do all that at once," he said.
The city spends between $6 million and $12 million per year on the capital budget for parks, with another $5 million for Assiniboine Park.
The condition of parks assets is important to track, since the assessment can help the city decide which investments are needed first, said Coun. Sherri Rollins, chairperson of council’s protection and community services committee.
"We have realities and work to do with respect to protecting that which we’ve already built… and we still do have ambitions for new green space. Winnipeggers love their green space. So, it is a challenge to tackle all of it but this is an important piece that we do every year to look at how the recreation, leisure and parks system supports growth," said Rollins.
The councillor said a preliminary budget proposal to add $4 million more to preserve and maintain the tree canopy will also help ensure improvements.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.