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Residents stand up for their footbridge

The footbridge at Omand’s Creek on March 21, 2010. The water is just at bridge level.
Photo Credit: Anna Harrison

Spring in Winnipeg means many things. It brings the shedding of winter-wear, thoughts of pastel-coloured candy, perhaps a bit of cleaning. In the neighbourhood of Wolseley, it usually means taking a detour around, Omand’s Creek Park.

Omand’s Creek is named after John Omand, who immigrated to the Red River settlement through the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1823. The park is an important part of the community. But as residents, joggers and bike riders can attest, the footbridge is usually flooded over in the spring.

Now there is a proposed $1-million investment for the park, which would include replacing the existing footbridge. But it does not seem to be what most residents want, and they have taken to Facebook to express their concerns.

The group is called, dont build a giant bridge across omands creek!!!! It was started in the beginning of March and as of today has almost 600 fans.

“This is going to turn it from: a great biking hill, an accessible place to go fishing, a sledding hill, a beautiful quiet green space,” said Ashley Chartrand, a member of the Facebook group, “into: a place out of sight where illegal activity can occur under the bridge, decreases safety for the area, eliminates green space, makes the biking trail totally unexciting, no sledding, full of graffiti, concrete and the smell of urine. Just an unpleasant place to be.”

The funding will come from the Canadian government, the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba as part of the Active Transportation-Infrastructure Stimulus Plan, the plan suggests removing the foot-bridge and building a larger, higher, structure, which won’t flood over.

Janice Lukes, the trails co-ordinator for the Winnipeg Trails Association thinks that the new bridge is needed, but perhaps it was not introduced to the community the right way.

“It’s critically important to work with the community so they’re satisfied. But it’s equally important to ensure the safety of the community. I think there’s a way to find a happy medium, but the process has been flawed. I don’t think proper community consultation was done,” she said.

On March 18, 2010 the public was invited to attend an open house to discuss the development of the project. Many members of the Facebook group attended the event, but still left unsure about the bridge construction.

Janice Freeman, a resident of Wolseley, even wrote a letter to her MLA Rob Altemeyer. In the letter she explains why she is opposed to the construction of the bridge.

“I know it is unusual for you to hear from me to say that I do NOT want public money spent in my community… However, the recent announcement of a grade-level bridge for Omand’s Creek has once again spurred me into action,” she wrote.

Lori Kergan a member of dont build a giant bridge across omands creek!!!! agrees.

“Some things are better left alone,” she posted.

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Anna Harrison of Red River College

  • User since Oct 27th 2009, 09:38

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