A national urban park may be in Winnipeg’s future.

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This article was published 20/8/2021 (271 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A national urban park may be in Winnipeg’s future.

The City of Winnipeg has signed a "statement of collaboration" with Parks Canada to discuss the idea.

The talks will focus on whether it’s feasible to add a national urban park in Winnipeg, said city spokesman Ken Allen, in a written statement.

"Though these conversations are in the very early stages, we are committed to supporting the discussion and working together to… look at possible (sites) for future national parklands, and strategize/formalize future agreements as required," said Allen.

Coun. Sherri Rollins, city council’s parks chairwoman, said the program supports a key city goal to preserve and expand green space.

"It’s increasing the land that (the federal government is) protecting. That’s absolutely aligned with the city’s strategic plan," said Rollins.

In June, city council approved two key development planning documents — OurWinnipeg 2045 and Complete Communities 2.0 — after adjusting them to help keep existing green space intact and add more green space in the future. Those plans set a guideline for city council to prohibit development on major city-owned green spaces, such as forests, parks and golf courses. Council also promised to "take steps" to add 1,000 acres of public park space to its reserves by 2045.

Parks Canada aims to spend up to $131 million to create a network of national urban parks. The senior government has also signed statements with the Meewasin Valley Authority (in Saskatchewan), as well as the municipalities of Halifax and Windsor, Ont. Additional discussions could identify urban park sites in the Edmonton, Colwood, B.C. and Montreal, a federal press release says.

The feds expect the network will help protect biodiversity, which is at greatest risk in urban areas.

Rollins said it’s not yet clear where a potential national park could be placed within Winnipeg.

While the city is expected to "co-host" the space, Rollins said it’s also unclear how much money, if any, the city would be expected to provide for the project, should a park be added.

She stressed the agreement does set a clear path to create a national park, something she believes many Winnipeggers want.

"(Parks are) beloved spaces. People really want to see the city prioritize them with investments. That became crystal clear during the discussions of OurWinnipeg and Complete Communities… It was the No. 1 priority that folks wrote to me about (when those plans were debated)," said Rollins.

The federal government says it will closely consult with Indigenous communities on the proposed parks network.


Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

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.