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This article was published 24/5/2019 (406 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Riverwalk at The Forks, winding along the banks of the Assiniboine and Red rivers from the Esplanade Riel to the Manitoba Legislature Building, will once again be reduced to only a portion of its path to start the season.
Beginning Friday, a section of the Riverwalk running along the Assiniboine River — which is controlled and operated by The Forks — was officially opened to foot traffic.
However, as usual, the section of the walkway that runs along the Red River — which is the responsibility of Parks Canada — is lagging behind. It isn’t expected to be open until the middle of June, at the earliest.
The divided responsibility for the walkway leads to complications for its opening most years, with the section controlled by The Forks routinely opening at an earlier date than its federally controlled counterpart.
In the past, Parks Canada has said federal contract procedures and bureaucratic red tape slow down the process of cleaning the site and opening it to the public. The agency’s tendering process takes anywhere from four to six weeks, which means its cleanup lags behind the work of The Forks crews, which usually has its section opened in May.
Parks Canada public relations and communications officer Jodi Duhard said now that water levels have receded, there is a lot of debris that needs to be cleaned before the walkway can be opened.
"To complete the Riverwalk clean-up, Parks Canada hires an independent surveyor who assesses the quantity of debris requiring removal. Once that amount is determined, a separate contractor is brought in to remove the debris," Duhard said.
"This process usually takes a few weeks to complete, which means that the Parks Canada portion of the Riverwalk is expected to open for public use sometime in June."
Meanwhile, Larissa Peck, marketing and communications co-ordinator for The Forks, said the cleanup effort by its staff has already been underway for a number of weeks.
"The Forks section of the Riverwalk is clear and open as of now. Provided the coming rain doesn’t affect river levels too much, it should remain open for the season," Peck said.
"As water levels receded over the last couple of weeks, Forks site staff has worked to remove silt and clear the area. Water dropped below the Riverwalk pathway earlier this week. In the coming days, we will be re-sodding the grassy area and outfitting the area with the usual furniture."
This year, the Riverwalk was submerged for 45 days, beginning April 6, thanks to spring flood waters, according to information provided by the City of Winnipeg.
Duhard said every summer Parks Canada works as fast as possible to get the site cleaned up. This year, she said the river stabilized "very quickly" and the job is expected to be completed "much earlier than in previous years."
Meanwhile, the City of Winnipeg maintains the section of the Riverwalk west of the Main Line along the Assiniboine to the Manitoba Legislature.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
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Updated on Monday, May 27, 2019 at 9:31 AM CDT: Clarifies sections of Assiniboine Riverwalk and those responsible for them