Representatives from three levels of government were in Winnipeg's Central Park Friday morning pledging $5.6 million to clean it up.

Central Park is north of Ellice Avenue between Portage Place and Cumberland Avenue in the city's core. It was the hub of Winnipeg's fashionable district 100 years ago, but it is now a place some have described as being shamefully neglected.

An example of the park's condition is the Waddell Fountain. The historic gothic structure is a heritage site -- but it is crumbling and hasn't worked in more than a decade.

Located in the heart of the city -- Central Park is the meeting place for many of the immigrants and refugees in our city. But in recent years it's also developed a reputation as a haven for crime and vandalism.

Norman Chartrand lived across from the park for seven years. He recently moved to escape the constant sirens and violence.

Chartrand wants the park cleaned up, and that's exactly what the new funding will be used for.

Public and private funding

The public sector and Winnipeg businessman Gerry Gray will work together to restore Central Park.

The money will be used to add new lighting, and play structures. They'll also fix the Waddell fountain.

Chartrand says it'll be hard to revitalize Central Park without a bigger police presence in the evening. But Winnipeg police have been paying more attention to the park, and

Mayor Sam Katz says the facelift will make things even better.

"When you have a clean, special, friendly environment, people treat it differently," he told CTV News.

Katz says Winnipeggers can expect to see a lot of changes in the area. There's talk of building a market area in the park and even a year round soccer pitch. But those projects will only happen after a community consultation.

Work on the fountain should get underway in the next three to four weeks. The majority of the other work will begin in the fall. Officials hope to have everything done by 2009.

With a report from CTV's Jon Hendricks.