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'No Trespassing' signs now up at Lemay Forest

 People can no longer walk in the forest as the property's owner plans to replace the verdant 22-acre landscape with affordable and assisted housing. (Source: CTV News) People can no longer walk in the forest as the property's owner plans to replace the verdant 22-acre landscape with affordable and assisted housing. (Source: CTV News)
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Advocates are speaking out after public access to a St. Norbert forest officially ended Friday.

No trespassing signs accompany the new fencing being erected around the Lemay Forest this weekend. People can no longer walk in the forest as the property's owner plans to replace the verdant 22-acre landscape with affordable and assisted housing.

The closure has sparked a city-wide debate, with the City of Winnipeg now contemplating purchasing the land to rescue the beloved forest from being cut down. A motion to begin negotiations has been deferred until January so city council can gather more information.

The community is lamenting the potential loss of a beloved public space.

"It has devastating effects," said Jaxon Kowaluk with the Coalition to Save Lemay Forest. "It'll rob the community of a cherished public space, disrupt public local wildlife habitats, and it can lead to ecological imbalance."

Kowaluk says the coalition has gathered more than 3,000 signatures on a Change.org petition. He encourages all Winnipeggers to reach out to the mayor and city council about the issue.

"The community will continue to be the eyes of the forest," he said. "Even though we cannot access it, we're going to always be watching it."

Professional planner John Wintrup, who represents the property owner, says it's hosting an open house in January to show off its plans for the site.

Wintrup previously told CTV News that his client is open to a sale or land swap, but would like to see the city make a decision soon.

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