The city’s plan to rebuild a $200 million park in a residential neighbourhood is at risk of being undermined by an escalation of park-building work by a private firm and its owner, the Globe and Mail has learned.
The City of Winnipeg is set to announce an $80 million contract with the private firm, Deep Blue Park Development, to create a new park, located in the same area as the old one.
It’s an escalation in work that could threaten the survival of the park.
The city has been working with Deep Blue for years to install new lighting and landscaping to bring its existing parks back to life.
But that work is now in jeopardy because the park’s owner, Deep Purple Development, has decided to pursue a larger, more costly contract.
The city is also seeking advice from its parks and recreation committee on how to proceed.
The council has already approved a $10 million contract for the park, but the city is still working out the details of a new contract.
In a letter to the council, Deep Green CEO Scott Ransom said the park will need more money to get it back on its feet, especially after a contract with Deep Purple expired.
Deep Purple has already received $1.4 million in new park funding from the city, but Ransom fears that will be a drop in the bucket compared with the $40 million that the city’s parks and youth program is spending on park renovations.
Ransom said that if the city and the park agency can’t reach a contract soon, it would likely not be able to maintain the park for the duration of the project.
“This is a new kind of conflict, and it’s going to come up a lot,” Ransom told the council.
The park was originally slated to open in 2019, but Deep Purple plans to have the park opened later than that because of ongoing renovations to the park itself, Ransom added.
The council is expected to vote next week on whether to approve the park-funding proposal and if the park board will be asked to approve it.
Deep Purple has been hired by the city to complete renovations to its existing park and to create new parks, including a large new green space and a new playground.
In the meantime, the park authority is planning to spend $2 million to renovate its current park.
Kristina Anderson, who represents the area, said the council should act quickly to prevent further escalation of work in the city park.
“We need to make sure that the park is able to stay alive,” Anderson said.
R.C. Brown, a former mayor of Winnipeg and now a professor at the University of Manitoba, said he believes Deep Purple’s expansion of the downtown area could lead to an increase in park construction, but he also thinks the city should be cautious about spending money on the project until it is confident that it has a contract in place.
“The best solution is to have an agreement with the park,” he said.