Time to get creative with boulevards


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/09/2022 (252 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Residents and visitors should feel good about the city spaces around them, whether they are walking, cycling or driving. Here in Winnipeg, we have prioritized concrete spaces with minimal requirements for landscaping.

All around our city, you have likely noticed the familiar sight of medians and boulevards that are neglected. Concrete boulevards easily crack and grassed areas become overgrown with noxious weeds. Many boulevards have deteriorated, causing considerable amounts of maintenance, with too few funds to keep them in good condition. The conditions this past spring highlighted the city’s lack of resources to properly maintain traditional grassed areas. But what if there was a better way?

In many other urban centres, local governments have invested in landscaping elements that are beautiful, practical and cost-effective. Naturally landscaped boulevards have become increasingly standard across Europe and North America. Other cities with harsh winters have utilized hardy plant varieties, successfully transforming boulevards into spaces with four season vibrancy requiring minimal maintenance. A good example is Rapid City, S.D.; city boulevards are planted with hardy pine shrubs, drought resistant plants and some feature public art. So why is Winnipeg not following suit?

The boulevards and medians on McPhillips Street are prime candidates for natural rejuvenation.

A new vision for Winnipeg’s boulevards and medians should include attractive tall-grass prairie varieties, large decorative boulders and Manitoba’s hardy pine trees. McPhillips Street is a prime candidate for natural rejuvenation. The current concrete medians provide little enhancement to our city — in fact they are a burden for taxpayers. They are sterile and often dangerous, creating hard divisions between neighbourhoods. When it rains and snows, water cannot be absorbed and instead becomes an expensive problem for our city’s sewer system. In contrast, if these spaces were landscaped with prairie grasses and trees, the water could be absorbed and processed naturally by the plants. Instead of costly grass mowing or concrete maintenance, naturally landscaped boulevards would be a wise (and beautiful) investment that builds civic pride.

Many people may be leery of ‘natural’ greenspaces, as they have the potential to become unsightly if not periodically maintained. No greenspace is 100 per cent maintenance free, so city crews would still perform clean ups of litter and monitor the health of plants.

We can have better boulevards throughout Winnipeg, it just requires embracing new ideas and a willingness for a beautiful city.

Daniel Guenther

Daniel Guenther
Garden City community correspondent

Daniel Guenther is president of the Garden City Residents’ Association and a community correspondent for his neighbourhood. Email him at:

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