‘Little Forks’: New proposal made for national urban park

A new proposal for an urban national park was made in Winnipeg today at the Buchanan Marine Boat Launch. The proposal, dubbed “Little Forks” would include approximately 430-hectares of land and water areas, including 40-hectares of restored industrial lands.

The proposed park would be centred at the tip of Point Douglas and would include portions of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, as well as a large portion of the Seine River within the city limits.

A map showing the proposed areas of a new national urban park. WPG Little Forks

Jean Trottier, an associate professor from the department of landscape architecture with the University of Manitoba took on the task of developing the proposal for Little Forks. He was quick to point out how other community groups were pivotal when it came to providing support to the proposals creation.

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“I’d like to acknowledge that it really, benefited from the knowledge, and support and contribution of a great number of organizations and individuals,” said Trottier. “So really thank you, for being part of this adventure with us.”

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With a focus based in for core pillars, the backbone of the proposal lie in four key areas.

  • Protection and conservation of nature.
  • Access to nature, recreational, cultural, and historical features
  • Reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
  • And support of municipal urban development initiatives.

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Much like when The Forks began development back in the 1980’s, Trottier encouraged those who might be unsure about the project to consider the future.

“Take a look around us. 50 years ago, most of this place was a patch of barren land,” Trottier explained. “Now, we’re going to ask you this morning to look forward 50 years, and imagine what the rest of the places around us, up and down the rivers, could look like with a little care and determination.”

Trottier continued by stressing how as transformative as this project could be, it will require serious commitment from those who wish to see it through.

“The Little Forks proposal is not for the faint of heart. Many levels of government, landowners, indigenous and community organizations will need to be brought together in a joint ownership and management agreement,” said Trottier. “The environmental restoration of the greater sites will require decades of sustained commitment to become parkland, but such an effort is not unprecedented.”

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A map showing potential development options at Point Douglas. WPG Little Forks

That long-term commitment isn’t new to former Manitoba premier Gary Doer. As a Cabinet Minister he worked with the Mulroney goverment in order to bring The Forks to life. He shared how back then, many people told him it was wrong to do so.

“One thing this teaches us is that this is not going to be a slam dunk. I remember The Forks discussions. Everybody had an opinion, everybody said we were doing it wrong,” explained Doer. “And now, years later, when I meet my friends and they’re having people in from outside of Winnipeg, where do they take them? They take them to The Forks.”

And with this proposal, organizers have one thing Doer didn’t have back then, significant backing from residents in the area.

“We didn’t have as much community involvement at the front end, so I am confident with the launch,” Doer said. “It relies on the community, it started with the community, and it will land with the community.”


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