September 20, 2019

Winnipeg
21° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Opinion

Publicly funded Diversity Gardens should be kept open to everyone

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>The Assinboine Park Conservatory has long been an indoor park for our winter city.</p>

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The Assinboine Park Conservatory has long been an indoor park for our winter city.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/3/2018 (538 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

People of all ages and walks of life will dearly miss the historic Assiniboine Park Conservatory, which has been available at no cost. Soon, a new structure with an entrance fee will replace it: the Leaf at Canada’s Diversity Gardens. It, too, should be freely available to all.

Due to structural problems, the conservatory has reached the end of its life and is closing Monday. Assiniboine Park has been home to the conservatory — and previously the Palm House — for more than 100 years. A trip to the conservatory has long been a winter escape, particularly for those who cannot afford to go south in the winter.

Public parks are places of natural beauty and should be gathering places for people regardless of their ability to pay. Research by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that green spaces reduce chronic disease while boosting mental health. In one of the coldest urban centres on the planet, the conservatory has been like an indoor park for our winter city.

Assiniboine Park is now in phase three of the Imagine a Place plan to create a world-class park with a major focus on attracting tourists. Statistics Canada data show three times as many tourists visit Winnipeg in the summer as in the winter.

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/3/2018 (538 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

People of all ages and walks of life will dearly miss the historic Assiniboine Park Conservatory, which has been available at no cost. Soon, a new structure with an entrance fee will replace it: the Leaf at Canada’s Diversity Gardens. It, too, should be freely available to all.

Due to structural problems, the conservatory has reached the end of its life and is closing Monday. Assiniboine Park has been home to the conservatory — and previously the Palm House — for more than 100 years. A trip to the conservatory has long been a winter escape, particularly for those who cannot afford to go south in the winter.

Public parks are places of natural beauty and should be gathering places for people regardless of their ability to pay. Research by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that green spaces reduce chronic disease while boosting mental health. In one of the coldest urban centres on the planet, the conservatory has been like an indoor park for our winter city.

Assiniboine Park is now in phase three of the Imagine a Place plan to create a world-class park with a major focus on attracting tourists. Statistics Canada data show three times as many tourists visit Winnipeg in the summer as in the winter.

Diversity Gardens will receive many more visitors in the summer; those who live here and endure winter for six long months arguably need an indoor green space that is accessible year-round.

Many facilities worldwide are successful without admission charges. The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in Minnesota operates on a voluntary donation basis and people are welcome even if they cannot make a donation. An American study found one-third of U.S. art galleries do not charge admission.

If the Leaf at Diversity Gardens has free admission, attendance would be much higher than otherwise. Attendees could be encouraged to make a donation, which would recoup a great deal of the forgone admission revenue. And if there is free admission, patrons will be far more likely to spend money at the café or gift shop.

The Assiniboine Park Zoo was once free. I was talking with a child-care worker who has not been to the new zoo because her family can’t afford the $76.60 entrance cost for a family of four.

If a fee is charged at the Leaf at Diversity Gardens, they likely will not be able to afford to visit this facility, either.

Assiniboine Park gives out free zoo passes, via community agencies, for those in need. But this charity only goes so far because only a limited number are given out. If people do not have a connection to a community agency, they can’t get a pass. Moreover, there is dignity and choice in attending based on one’s own availability rather than hoping for a free pass or waiting for one free day per year.

The Diversity Gardens will be built with $60 million in federal, provincial and municipal public funding and $15 million in private funding.

While being responsible for millions in public money, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy is introducing user fees into the park, with no consultation with Winnipeggers on the imposition of these fees.

When the park was still governed by the city, the standing policy committee on protection and community services promised citizens would have free access to Assiniboine Park. The park’s governance model was changed under the auspices of streamlining management and to attract more private investment to subsidize eroding city funding. Notably, city operating and capital funding has increased since the conservancy was created to respond to the new "Imagine a Place" plan.

The conservancy is seeking more earned revenue to achieve self-sufficiency, an elusive goal for non-profit charities. Organizations such as the conservancy, by their very nature, require public funding to fulfil their mandate — in this case, a beautiful park for all Winnipeggers to enjoy.

Assiniboine Park has been transformed in the past 10 years, with many wonderful new amenities being added. Can the conservancy think outside the fee-based-model box, along with the city of Winnipeg, and find a way for the new conservatory to continue to be available at no charge?

Imagine an indoor park in Winnipeg everyone can enjoy. Models exist elsewhere that can be adopted if the imagination is open to this possibility. It is not too late to think creatively so that the Leaf at Canada’s Diversity Gardens is a place where every Winnipegger feels they belong.

Molly McCracken fondly remembers visits to the Assiniboine Park Conservatory with her mother and grandparents. This winter, she took her baby son to share this experience with him.

A local group is organizing on this issue: facebook.com/NoUserFeesDiversityGardens/

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us