City council gives green light to green space plans
WINNIPEG -- A push to create and protect green space cleared a major hurdle Thursday at city hall.
Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of two master planning documents.
The OurWinnipeg 2045 Plan and Complete Communities Direction Strategy feature a focus on green space planning.
“This is a momentous day,” said Coun. Sherri Rollins, chairperson of the Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks. “It really is a big day.”
The plan will include a biodiversity policy and plans to protect and enhance forests and green spaces and connect riverbank corridors.
It also calls for a ban on development on city-owned land that is designated as major open space or park land.
“You might see a parking lot there today but tomorrow it’s a beautiful view of the riverbank,” said Rollins.
Last month a property on Mulvey Ave. East, bordering a trail that’s tucked along the west bank of the Red River just off Osborne St. nearly became home to a housing development.
“I was surprised it didn’t,” said Shirley Forsyth, a resident of the area and a green space advocate. “I really thought that we would lose this.”
Community advocates pushed back and Winnipeg city council voted against the sale.
Groups like OURS (Outdoor Urban Recreational Spaces)-Winnipeg have been vocal in the push to protect, preserve and create green space—a movement that’s gained additional momentum amid the pandemic.
Pam Lucenkiw, co-chair of OURS-Winnipeg, said about six per cent or 9,000 acres of land in Winnipeg is considered park space.
“This has been a big leap for Winnipeg,” said Lucenkiw. “We have moved from having no green space plan and kind of having a vision of Winnipeg having too much green space to now having a plan looking to our future.”
Lucenkiw said the challenge now will be turning the vision into reality.
“The next step is the strategic plan and the budget and we will be watching very closely to make sure that these plans bear fruit,” she said.
Part of the plan includes adding an additional 1,000 acres of public park space.
“I think it’s feasible,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “It’s going to require some work by this council and future councils.”
While it’s surrounded by orange snow fence and filled with gravel now, Forsyth feels the vacant land on Mulvey has plenty of untapped potential.
“I just love the peace and quiet,” she said. “It’s quiet, normally. You get the cyclists coming through. You get to sit and look at the river.”
She hopes that soon it’ll become an even more welcoming place for people to enjoy.
The OurWinnipeg plan now goes to the province for approval.