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This article was published 4/6/2021 (395 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Some park-goers, outdoor recreationists and nature lovers are petitioning city council to protect publicly-owned green spaces.
On June 16, council will vote on whether it will allow developers to build on parks, golf courses and river corridors as part of the OurWinnipeg 2045 Development Plan.
The 25-year plan would see chunks of a number of green spaces across the city up for grabs.
The plan includes Assiniboine Park and John Blumberg Golf Course in the west part of the city, and
Crescent Drive Park and Golf Course, Assiniboine Forest, Tuxedo Golf Course, Wildwood Golf Course and Kings Park in the southwest.
Muriel St. John, a member of OURS-Winnipeg (Outdoor Urban Recreational Spaces) and Crescent Park Rescue Committee, sees golf courses as hotspots for year-round recreation and regions containing urban forest.
She wants the city to spike the idea of selling off the John Blumberg Golf Course, a 27-hole giant along the Assiniboine River just west of the Perimeter Highway.
"John Blumberg could be the star of that master green plan if they kept it," St. John said. "That would be a great place for a biodiversity park because it’s along the river."
St. John lives near Crescent Park and believes in the benefits of stealing away to a natural area. In a presentation to city council in March, she spoke about how parks promote mental and physical health.
"The city has to look at alternate changes, rather than selling off green space to the developers. There’s no vision," St. John said. "They have to think about the future generations. This just doesn’t make sense."
Pat Lucenkiw, the co-chair of OURS-Winnipeg, believes the idea of parcelling out parkland in an "ad hoc" fashion should be out of the question.
"We don’t want to lose green space at all. We actually need more because we’re below average in the amount of green space we have," she said.
The Canadian City Parks Report 2020 states 6.6 per cent of Winnipeg is parkland. By comparison, Regina is seven per cent, Edmonton is eight per cent and Toronto is 13 per cent. The national average is nine per cent.
OURS-Winnipeg wants to see a master green space plan, a corridor plan for riparian forests along the rivers, a biodiversity plan and all development options removed from the Major Open Spaces chapter of OurWinnipeg 2025.
"We’re just getting a parks plan now. It’s been 40 years since the last one," said Lucenkiw. "The climate action plan related to green space is not finished. That’s the part where you would talk about stormwater retention, water storage, flooding, urban heat island effect and planning green space for the public."
St. John and Lucenkiw hope the city will consider developing areas within the city limits that don’t take a bite out of parkland and don’t believe the existing plan will prevent urban sprawl.
"The letters are especially helpful," Lucenkiw said. "The councillors have been getting a lot of letters, and I think that’s what really making a difference."
Katlyn Streilein is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She can be reached by phone at 204-697-7132 or by email at email@example.com