It’s about improving parks and giving Winnipeggers more places to enjoy the great outdoors.

It’s about improving parks and giving Winnipeggers more places to enjoy the great outdoors.

A new strategic plan for parks proposes a $162-million capital investment plan, beginning in 2024.

Since Winnipeg doesn’t have a formal, council-approved plan to guide the parks system, the 25-year framework would add a long-term vision and help better protect green spaces, a public service report says.

The strategy and investments would also help the city create an “equitable, high-quality and sustainable parks system,” writes Dave Domke, the city’s manager of parks and open spaces.

The head of council’s protection and community services committee expects the strategy would support strategic goals to protect and add green space in Winnipeg.

“There has been an ad-hoc approach to parks and this provides a logic (with) which to reinvest. That is good. It provides a logic to prioritize green space and, in fact, support a plan towards investing in increased green space,” said Coun. Sherri Rollins.

The strategy proposes specific goals for parks access, which aim to ensure all Winnipeggers have a park and a playground within walking distance (or 600 metres) of their homes, picnic/gathering spaces within two kilometres and multi-use greenspace within 1.2 kilometres.

The 10-year capital plan would include $137.5 million to renew and replace amenities, such as playgrounds, athletic fields, sports courts, park buildings and park furniture. Another $13.8 million would be used to acquire more green space and invest in restoration, naturalization and environmental education efforts.

The remaining funds would support accessibility projects, research and potential parks partnerships.

The public service is requesting funding to hire a full-time project manager to oversee the strategy, as well as a parks agreements co-ordinator, a habitat restoration technician and an asset management technologist.

However, council may not rush to approve the plan. Rollins said she’ll ask the parks committee to delay their vote on it, to seek more financial detail on how the spending would affect the city’s debt.

Full council approval would be required to implement the strategy.

Winnipeg’s parks and open space system includes about 3,200 hectares of parkland and 200 hectares of green fields.

In December 2021, a parks report noted about 11 per cent of city-owned parks and open space assets are nearing the end of their useful lives — in poor or very poor condition — and it would cost about $102 million to replace them.

Parks assets include everything from benches to structures to boulevard trees.

Domke notes recommendations specific to trees were referred to the city’s urban forest strategy, instead of the parks plan.

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.