Bridgwater Forest: Park Maintenance, Forest Health & Fountain

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The Neighbourhoods of Bridgwater consist of three communities:  Bridgwater Forest, Bridgwater Lakes and Bridgwater Trails. Bridgwater Forest was the first residential community to be developed by the Province’s Manitoba Housing division.

Bridgwater Forest is designed with a very high level of architectural landscaping which makes it unique and beautiful. This landscaping requires a higher level of care than many other residential developments, and I have been working with the community since being elected in 2014 to facilitate a sustainable structure to deliver this  care.  Often, I make a comparison to a hospital when explaining why it’s necessary to work towards developing such a structure. While government provides the hospital with a certain level of core funding for services, IF the hospital wants to offer a higher level of service/expertise, a Foundation is established to secure additional funding.

Similarly, it could be said that I (in partnership with community residents) am building the foundation needed to enable a higher level of maintenance service and care for Bridgwater Forest.  A HUGE thanks to the volunteer members of the Bridgwater Forest Neighbourhood Association for playing a lead role in helping to create this community structure.

If anyone has ANY questions on these initiatives, please E-Mail jlukes@winnipeg.ca.  I’ve provided a high level summary below, but there is much more detail behind each initiative.

 

Take Pride Winnipeg! Green Team

For the second year in a row, I am providing ward funding to Take Pride Winnipeg! to support the hiring of five youth, who will oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the shrub beds in Bridgwater Forest. The Green Team is working under the guidance of the City’s Parks Department to add bark chips, do some weeding, and maintain these greenspaces.

I am also in conversation with Communities in Bloom to develop a stewardship program for residents – more details on that will be coming! We learned a great deal about the necessary maintenance procedures during Year 1 (2016), and will document additional maintenance details in Year 2 (2017). I also have the City developing an annual plan to guide long term maintenance. From what I have observed, no one within the City of Winnipeg can provide an accurate estimation of what is required to maintain the beautiful landscaping designs of Bridgwater Forest, as there are no other models like it in Winnipeg.

 

The Health of Bridgwater Forest

Thank you to the 20+ residents who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with me on June 27, 2017 to learn more about the forest. The City Naturalist, Rodney Penner, and South Winnipeg Parks Supervisor, Kyle Lucyk, were also in attendance to provide expert insight on some of the challenges the forest is facing. The Aspen and Oak forests located throughout Bridgwater contribute to making the community so unique.

Nearly ten years ago, urban development began surrounding pockets of the forest, and we are now seeing results of the ‘stress’ it has experienced. Often, trees in an urban environment are can’t reach their full potential due to unfavourable conditions.  In Bridgwater Forest, three main issues have been identified to be causing stress:

  1. Poorly designed area drainage
  2. Excessive sump pump run off
  3. Illegal dumping of organics

The valuable discussion at our meeting identified some specific follow-up steps.  The City will conduct an assessment on the health of forest, and report back to the community in fall, 2017. This assessment will help to identify:

  • Habitat conditions, and any changes that occurred in relation to a earlier assessment completed prior to development
  • Excessively wet areas
  • Existing catch basins

This summer, I will arrange to have our Green Team deliver flyers to homes backing on to the forest, with information on key factors impacting the forest, and what residents should do. I will also be posting this information on my website so that we can reach as many people as possible.

Once the assessment of the forest has been completed, I will reconvene with the community to discuss how the City will proceed and how residents can assist.

The ultimate goal is to develop a maintenance and care plan for Bridgwater Forest that is clearly defined and keeps everyone – the City and community residents – on the same page.

 

Bridgwater Fountain Issues

July 19th Update – FOUNTAIN:

  • The plumbing firm will attempt to seal the leak on the line responsible for taking water OUT of the fountain back to the tank/pump in the coming week.
  • Fountain heads (which were stolen) and lights (which were broken with rocks) have been ordered and will be installed.
  • Once all the pieces are back in the fountain, it will be ‘turned on’ and monitored to ensure that sealing the leak has been effective.
  • Re-leveling of the brickwork around the fountain will occur once the City’s Parks Department is confident the leak is fixed. Cautionary signage has been installed to ensure people are aware of the uneven surfacing.

July 19th Update – SHRUBBERY & LANDSCAPING CLEAN-UP AROUND FOUNTAIN

  • The shrubbery has become overgrown and is restricting visibility, thus creating an area that enables vandalism and undesirable activities (i.e. broken and stolen fountain parts)
  • The overhead structure/canopy has been damaged and requires fixing.
  • Invasive trees are growing and some plant material has died.
  • Currently, dead juniper bushes are being removed, along with seedling trees that have invaded the area. Bushes are being trimmed to a much lower height for visibility.
  • Karl Forrester Grass and Ligularia plants (large green leaves with yellow spikes) have become overgrown are now infested with weeds. These plants are being removed and will be replaced with plants that are more suitable to the growing area and that are lower to enable better overall visibility. The Parks Department anticipates the new plantings to occur this summer/fall.

 

Background Information

  • The community of Bridgwater Forest is built in a wet area.  Although the housing development was built on higher grounds, and drainage was incorporated into the overall community design, ground water levels remain high.
  • The fountain was working well when the City of Winnipeg accepted responsibility for it from the developer, Manitoba Housing.  As the fountain’s warranty has expired, any necessary repairs are the responsibility of the City.
  • Around 2013, the fountain quit working.  It worked periodically at times, and it became clear that there were mechanical issues.
  • From what I gather prior to me being elected, there was no focused effort on repairing the fountain. I heard extensive levels of ‘fountain frustration’ from residents during the 2014 civic election campaign.

Finding a Solution

  • Once elected as the Ward Councillor in fall, 2014, I was able to secure $100,000 to fix the fountain, and worked together with the City and Manitoba Housing in attempting to identify the problem.
  • It was determined that the tank containing the water for the fountain had popped up due to excessive ground water.  The tank had become buoyant and when it popped up, the main line connecting the water from the pump to the tank cracked.
  • In 2016, trenching occurred to fix the pipe.  The tank was inspected for leaks, ‘strapped and weighted down’ to prevent it from popping up again, and the water flow was monitored over the remainder of 2016.

Finding a Solution – Part 2

  • After additional monitoring, plumbers confirmed the fountain was losing nearly 1,000 gallons of water every day.
  • Because the main line flowing TO the fountain had been just repaired, it was determined that the line responsible for taking water OUT of the fountain could have a leak. This water line transports water back to the tank/pump.
  • The City is in the process of securing an estimate on the cost to fix this line which is situated UNDER the fountain. This means the the fountain may have to be completely removed (along with surrounding brick work on the plaza).
  • One can well assume that this additional repair will be very costly, which raises an important question.  Should we replace the fountain or construct something else? Water fountains require a high level of maintenance and are a costly amenity in a winter city such as Winnipeg.

This is a VERY high level summary, and I am neither a plumber nor a hydraulic engineer, but hopefully this summary provides readers with an understanding that this is not going to be a ‘simple, cheap fix’.

When I receive details on the final assessment, I will post an update on my website/Facebook and relay the information to the Bridgwater Forest Neighbourhood Association.  I fully expect I will host a community meeting to discuss the next steps in this ongoing saga.

 

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