The city's decision to temporarily close four parks in the wake of this month's unprecedented tree-destroying snow dump was enough to keep cars out of Kildonan Park on Sunday — but not pedestrians, who showed up to enjoy a sunny morning despite the closure.
"I was not concerned for my safety whatsoever. It was actually nice that there's no cars," said runner Michael Leger, who had just finished a 10-kilometre run through the park on Sunday and assumed the closure applied to cars, not people.
Leger and his running partner, Ruby Gill, were signed up for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Half Marathon on Sunday, but that race had been cancelled following safety concerns in the storm's messy aftermath.
"I think the city could have tried to do a better job of clearing a path for the runners, for sure," said Gill. "It's kind of a huge deal, people have been training for months."
But running in the tree-limb-strewn park didn't feel risky at all to Gill.
"I think we should just keep getting out there and doing it. That's what Winnipeggers do best, even though the weather conditions are against us, right?"
The city announced on Friday that Kildonan Park, Crescent Drive Park and St. Vital Park would be closed "for public safety reasons." King's Park was added to the closure list Saturday. Bookings and any special events planned for those parks have been cancelled, the city's website said.
"It's expected that these regional parks may be closed for a number of weeks," wrote city spokesperson David Driedger by email on Sunday.
Sunday's closure meant Charlie Rochon and his dog, Gem, couldn't drive into Kildonan Park, but they walked in after seeing pedestrians and cyclists enjoying the day.
"Like I say, as long as you don't see any equipment or anything, then you're not going to get hit by any flying debris or anything… It's common sense," said Rochon.
"We probably won't come back until it is officially cleaned. This way, nobody's going to be in their way and they can get their job done."
Brenda Pauls lives near Kildonan Park and goes there three or four times a day to walk her dog, Rosie. She was aware the park was closed, but felt familiar enough with the landscape and the storm damage to visit on Sunday.
"We sort of know where the broken stuff is, and where it isn't, and where we can walk and get away with it... We won't go over that way, because it's really bad past the pavilion. There's some downed electrical (wires) and stuff over there."
Pauls thought it made sense to close the park, even if it didn't stop pedestrians like her from entering.
"Because this place, on the weekend, is super busy and there's lots of cars. And I think it's the car traffic they were worried about," she said.
Workers who were busy removing debris from the park Sunday didn't seem to have any problem with pedestrians, she added.
As for the condition of the park itself, Pauls said her usual dog-walking spot was "devastated."
"Hundreds and hundreds of trees are really damaged. I don't know how many of them they'll have to take out, but it's astonishing, actually," she said.
"I hope that, if trees are lost, that funding will be available to replace them. This is a beautiful gem of north Winnipeg that we need to preserve, and I think quite a few trees have been lost."
The city estimates that at least 10 per cent of Winnipeg's 300,000 city-owned trees were damaged in the storm, in addition to nearly 10,000 diseased elm and ash trees that have already been marked for removal. It could take about five years to replace all those lost trees, the city said.
Solomon Israel is the full-time cannabis reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press and its national cannabis news website, TheLeafNews.com. He covers the social, legal, medical and scientific aspects of marijuana legalization in Manitoba and the rest of Canada.