Improvements at two City parks add picnic, greenspace, rest areas and ceremonial sites for inner city neighbourhoods

Released: July 30, 2013 at 11 a.m.
Province and City partnership enhances community-identified projects at Chief Grizzly Bear's Garden and Jacob Penner Park

Winnipeg, MB - Families and residents of two inner city neighbourhoods can enjoy more parks and community meeting spaces now that improvements have been completed at Chief Grizzly Bear’s Garden and Jacob Penner Park, Justice Minister Andrew Swan on behalf of Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux and Mayor Sam Katz announced today.

“By working with community associations, the province and the city have turned grey space into green space and created attractive, inviting meeting places for families and residents of these neighbourhoods,” said Swan. “The province is proud to support projects like these because we consider neighbourhood parks to be an important part of a community’s environment contributing to the social atmosphere that binds a community together.”

Joint funding from the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg through the Building Communities Initiative (BCI) II provided $250,000 for improvements to Chief Grizzly Bear’s Garden (also known by its traditional Ojibwa name Ogimaa Gichi Makwa Gitigaan) and $225,000 for improvements to Jacob Penner Park.

“These green spaces have been developed with input and support from neighbourhood community groups,” said Mayor Sam Katz. “The City of Winnipeg is pleased to be a partner in revitalizing downtown neighbourhoods, not only for the families that live here, but for all Winnipeggers.”

Chief Grizzly Bear’s Garden, formerly known as Spence Aboriginal Spirit Park, was a project identified and promoted in partnership with the Spence Neighbourhood Association and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc. The project includes redevelopment of four vacant lots into a community gathering area and green space with:

  • a ceremonial circle based on the Aboriginal medicine wheel,
  • seating berm with retaining wall,
  • small play structure,
  • benches, picnic tables and lighting,
  • native trees, shrubs and perennials representing plants traditionally used in Aboriginal ceremonies and healing.

“This park started as a grassroots initiative and the community has been closely involved throughout the whole process,” said Tanya Suderman of the Spence Neighbourhood Association. “We are thankful for the City of Winnipeg and Province of Manitoba for providing us the opportunity to build our community, celebrate culture and provide a safe place for future generations to gain traditional knowledge.”

The Jacob Penner Park redevelopment complements community garden space installed by the Spence Neighbourhood Association and Daniel McIntyre-St. Matthews Community Association. Following community consultations, the site now includes:

  • new pathways, entry sites and benches,
  • a skateboard plaza, and
  • half-court basketball court.

"We are very pleased to see them investing in one of the parks in our neighbourhood and hope that it is an indication of future investment in our community, said Kemlin Nembhard, Executive Director of the Daniel McIntyre-St. Matthews Community Association. “The experience of working with the City on this project was truly collaborative and inclusive and overall very positive - it's a model that I hope can be emulated for future interactions including projects done in partnership with community."

Chief Grizzly Bear’s Garden and Jacob Penner Park were two of the approved neighbourhood infrastructure projects throughout Winnipeg announced as part of Phase One of BCI II that provided a total of $10 million between 2010 and 2013. Of the 38 approved projects under the first phase, 34 have been completed, with the remaining four to be completed over the next year. Projects included improving athletic fields, playgrounds and structures, splash pads, lighting, seating, pathways in parks, upgrades and expansion of community centres.

The BCI II is a multi-year, cost-shared capital initiative developed jointly by the Manitoba government and the City of Winnipeg, to support community revitalization through improvements to local infrastructure in targeted older neighbourhoods and contribute to the vitality, safety and health of communities throughout the city.

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