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This article was published 19/9/2016 (1128 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
City officials said if politicians want boulevards and parks to look nicer, they’ll have to pony up millions of dollars.
An administrative report dealing with the shabby state of parks and boulevards says parks staff can’t keep up with mowing and the solution requires another $2.8 million.
"Within the last few years, existing resources for park grass maintenance have been stretched even further than normal due to the addition of new developments and reductions in parks maintenance staff," sparks manager Dave Domke says.
Domke says parks staff is unable to comply with council policy on grass maintenance because funding requests have been repeatedly denied, adding council is breaching its own policy on minimum inflationary increases for the parks budget.
Domke said council approved a policy in 2003 that required infrastructure and maintenance budgets be increased at least by the rate of inflation to cover the cost of labour, equipment and material to reflect the city’s expansion.
However, Domke said successive councils have limited parks budget increases to cover only fuel costs.
The situation was compounded when the department cut the equivalent of 10 full-time positions from 2010 to 2015 to meet budget targets for vacancy management and department savings.
Domke said the $2.8 million is only to improve mowing in older neighbourhoods — not for suburbs developed in the last six years.
Domke said suburban growth added 102 hectares of new park space from 2010 to 2015, but the department doesn’t have the budget or the resources to touch a blade of grass in those areas.
Domke said it would cost another $1.2 million for maintenance in the suburbs.
Monday, councillors on the parks committee endorsed the department request for an additional $2.8 million and forwarded the request to the 2017 budget process.
Coun. Janice Lukes (South Winnipeg-St. Norbert) cautioned the committee and the parks department to consider alternative methods to maintain park space.
Lukes, whose ward includes the expanding Waverley West neighbourhood, said the city required the developers of Bridgwater Forest to include park space in new neighbourhoods, but the city failed to plan for that additional work.
It’s not being maintained, she said.
Lukes said she used $13,500 of her ward’s land dedication fund to hire five summer students to weed the boulevards in Bridgwater Forest for a five-week period.
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.
Updated on Monday, September 19, 2016 at 10:09 PM CDT: updated, edited