They call Transcona the Park City for a reason. If a motion from the area councillor is approved by council, the area’s plentiful parks would have extra recourse for protection and enhancement.
At the April 7 meeting of the East Kildonan-Transcona community committee, Coun. Shawn Nason (Transcona) tabled a motion calling for the public service to report back on the viability of bestowing historic status on a number of Transcona parks. The motion also called for community engagement should any changes be proposed to those parks.
"We have limited sources of funds," Nason said. "We have a lot of parks in our community, but the dynamic of play has changed."
Nason brought forward the motion after hearing concerns from residents after a number of parks in the area had been converted to ‘passive parks,’ with old playground equipment removed.
"Residents of Transcona are extremely concerned that parks that hold important historical links to the community may be declared as surplus and redeveloped if converted to passive parks or deemed surplus," Nason noted.
There’s a fear that if parks turn into passive parks, we may lose that land.
Specifically, Billy McCann Park (corner of Rousseau Avenue and Day Street), Maple Leaf Park (331 Whittier Ave. W), Park Circle Park (Wabasha Street and Ravelston Ave. E), and William Reid Park (corner of Leola Street and Whittier Ave. E) were named as parks of significance.
Daniel Blaikie, Member of Parliament for Elmwood-Transcona, spoke to the committee as a delegate on the matter.
"I’m here to express on behalf of many citizens a real frustration with what we often hear, which is that it’s too expensive to have the parks that have been around for a long time," Blaikie, a lifelong Transcona resident, said. "There’s a fear that if parks turn into passive parks, we may lose that land."
Blaikie also spoke to the perception that while Transcona is a development hotspot in the city, the revenues from an increased tax base aren’t being reinvested in services and ammenities locally.
"I’m not saying there aren't real fiscal constraints under the way City Hall has been run for quite some time," Blaikie said. "But I’m saying how could we afford to have all these amenities a long time ago with a smaller tax base, while today it’s a story of closing these things down. How did we get here?"
Nason expressed frustration himself at the fact that the development in West Transcona alone has brought millions into the city’s "coffers," while at the same time being unable to access what he feels is an equitable share of that revenue to reinvest in the older parks in Transcona.
"At the city, as an institution, there don’t seem to be policies in place to support that reinvestment in the communities where those developments are happening," Blaikie said.
Coun. Jason Schreyer (Elmwood-East Kildonan) noted that the cost of building and maintaining infrastructure, through construciton inflation, has become a burden on the city’s finances.
"Taxes are going up, services are going down," Schreyer said. "We are so strapped, unlike ever before, because of the cost of government contracts going up."
The motion was carried by the committee, and forwarded on to the City’s standing policy committee on protection, community services and parks.
The Herald community journalist
Sheldon Birnie is the reporter/photographer for The Herald. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112