Kirkbridge Park Improvements
I’m very pleased to announce funding for upgrades in Kirkbridge Park and a decision on the baseball diamond fencing. The park upgrades and fencing discussion have been a year in the making, thus a rather lengthy update on this page. I am also available to discuss ‘in person’ for those who would prefer. I will be at Waverley Heights Community Center on Tuesday evening, April 26:
Discuss Kirkbridge Park Upgrades with Councillor Lukes
- 7 – 8 p.m. on Tuesday April 26, 2016
- Waverley Heights Community Centre, 1885 Chancellor Drive
Richmond West Neighbourhoods Association Meeting
I am working with the Richmond West Neighbourhoods Association (RWNA) to organize another public meeting to discuss the park upgrades. I recognize the above meeting date on April 26 is short notice, but wanted to get the information out to residents ASAP. When RWNA finalizes a date, I will share details of that meeting on my EVENTS page. UPDATE: RWNA will host a meeting on Wed., May 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Bairdmore School Library.
UPGRADES in 2016 Construction Season
Kirkbridge Park will be upgraded this year with many enhancements. While I do not have the final budget yet, we anticipate the 2016 investments to Kirkbridge Park will be worth approximately $250,000. Construction on these projects will occur this summer/fall :
- Upgrading Asphalt Pathway: A new, wider pathway will replace much of the existing pathway system. Exact details are being mapped out and will be presented in the coming weeks.
- Distance Markers: Kilometer distance markers will be installed along the pathway, enabling pathway users to measure the length of their walks.
- Accessible Benches (with arm rests): Four benches will be installed along the pathway system. Exact locations will be determined in consultation with the residents.
- Park Signage: Two or three new ‘Kirkbridge Park’ signs will be installed, replacing the old signs
- Tree Plantings: The City will provide matching $$ to the funding received by RWNA through their successful application to Manitoba Hydro.
- Two Seasonal Washrooms: Residents and park users expressed a real need to have washrooms in place during the soccer and baseball season. The South Winnipeg Community Center will be installing seasonal washrooms on two parking lots. Exact locations will be determined and shared with RWNA.
- Baseball diamond fencing: A 4’ all-season fence will be installed around the perimeter of the baseball diamond. The fencing will have three access points so folks can pass through when the diamond is not in use. Originally, a 6’ all-season fence was proposed. I was working to ensure perimeter fencing would be only seasonal (see letter), but recently was informed by the City Parks department that a seasonal fence could NOT be installed for a multitude of safety reasons. This was conveyed to me just 2 weeks ago, so I’ve been working through this issue. The 4’ all-season fence will provide the level of safety required and be less obstructive in the park. I recognize not everyone will be in agreement with this, but the decision is based on several factors: Kirkbridge Park is a sports park designed for the entire community; it is a heavily used park and SAFETY for park users is paramount; it is extremely important to keeping our youth occupied with positive activities in our community; and the imminent development of a future recreation complex and playing fields enables the potential relocation of the baseball diamond.
BACKGROUND on Kirkbridge Park Maintenance
I was not aware of the level of maintenance which South Winnipeg Community Centre (SWCC) provides to Kirkbridge Park, and will assume that some residents may not know about the their services and role:
- SWCC provides park users with a higher level of park amenities and maintenance service than the City is able to provide. SWCC installs recycling bins throughout the park and empties all waste bins on a weekly basis. The City does not yet have a program to install recycling bins in City parks, and does not have the resources to pick up waste at parks as frequently as the SWCC provides to the very heavily used Kirkbridge Park.
- SWCC oversees maintenance on the soccer and baseball fields, and mows around the fields. Many community centers rely exclusively on the City to maintain sports fields and surrounding green space.
- SWCC has offered to install two seasonal washrooms that they will maintain. We all recognize children need to access washrooms and need somewhere other than the nearest tree – which may be in a resident’s back yard.
- After experiencing two summer seasons as City Councillor and the many requests for summer maintenance to our green spaces, I can definitively say that SWCC provides a much higher level of field and grounds maintenance than the City is able to deliver.
- SWCC is run by volunteers who want to deliver a high level quality sports and park experience for our youth. We are fortunate to have many community volunteers committing their time to our youth.
BACKGROUND on Baseball Diamond Fencing
I knocked on thousands of doors in Richmond West during the City of Winnipeg 2014 election campaign, and heard a common request from many residents: Please Upgrade Kirkbridge Park! This public greenspace was constructed over 20+ years ago as a community sports park, with baseball diamonds, soccer fields and fitness trails. This popular park is used extensively by the neighborhood, is a tremendous recreation amenity for the community, and is in dire need of an upgrade. Residents asked for a broad variety of improvements: fix park pathway system, add kilometer markers, install more benches, plant more trees, install a bathroom, construct a shade structure, and more!!
Following the election, I put up posters in the community inviting people to attend a meeting (June 10th, 2015) to discuss park upgrades. The long and short of the story is that we all discovered a dormant residents group! Years earlier, residents backing onto the park had united to install park lighting. Mr. Plaetinck, who led the initial group (RWNA), very generously stepped up to lead again and discussions began in earnest around prioritizing park upgrades. I attended multiple meetings with RWNA to determine the park amenities needed and developed a list of priorities.
At the same time, I was working with SWCC to understand their development plans for the coming years. Many area residents are acutely aware of the extreme shortage of recreation space in South Winnipeg. With the rapid growth of Waverly West, we have a bursting population of young children in the area playing soccer, baseball, cricket, hockey and more! The old, small Waverley Heights Community Center simply can not handle the increased demands of residents in our growing community.
I’ve been working with multiple organizations, securing planning funding, researching other recreation facilities and more – all with the goal of developing a new recreation complex in South Winnipeg. For details SEE HERE. Excellent progress is being made, and I encourage you to attend the SWCC Annual General Meeting on June 13 to learn more!
During my meetings with both RWNA and SWCC, I learned SWCC was planning to upgrade the large baseball diamond in Kirkbridge Park. SWCC followed the exact permitting process which the City had asked them to follow; yet, that process did not including sharing development plans with area residents who backed onto the park. Clearly, there was a communication breakdown. We most recently learned the City Permit department did not make the City Parks department aware of the upgrades either. It’s clear that the City’s ability to communicate, both internally and externally, has challenges that many of us have been working on since being elected.
While improvements are being made, there are situations that have derailed, and I find myself putting the pieces back together. The baseball diamond fencing is one such project. We all worked hard to find some kind of ‘interim’ solution, and we thought we had that with the seasonal fencing, but was recently informed that would not be possible. Following discussions with SWCC, it was determined a 4’ fence could be installed. A 4’ fence is less obtrusive than a 6’ fence, and shrubbery and greenery can be planted around it if residents so desire.
WHY IS THE FENCING NEEDED?
- Kirkbridge Park is a heavily used park where people stay on the trail, but also walk throughout the entire park.
- Many people are often unaware a baseball game is occurring and walk through the baseball diamond area, presenting serious safety situations. SAFETY is the paramount issue.
- There is an extreme shortage of recreation facilities in South Winnipeg, and an increasing number of children moving into the area. There are over 75 youth soccer teams this season; twice as many as in hockey programs! Baseball is no different, there are over 150 children registered who all deserve a place to play in their community.
- As a community, we must keep our children busy with healthy activities and we must strive to provide a high level of safety for all.
Mr. Plaetinck and RWNA have been extremely generous in providing time to meet and discuss the park upgrades and fencing issue, as has the SWCC Board of Directors. We are very fortunate to have such strong community interest in our parks and children. Many, many meetings have occurred over the past months regarding both park upgrades and the baseball diamond fencing. The City Parks department has also been working hard to find a solution. I recognize there is no ideal solution which will make everyone happy, but a decision is required.
Again, I am available to meet in person on April 26, take e-mail or phone calls or meet one on one. SEE CONTACT
Twitter link: http://janicelukes.ca/?p=5659