Skip to main content

Supporting our provincial parks as vital public spaces

Tuesday December 1,  I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on a Members Statement in support of our provincial parks.  Several weeks ago Manitoba Liberals uncovered evidence that the Pallister government had put out a request for proposals related to our parks.  It focused on how best to "monetize" and get more revenue from our  provincial parks.    There is a concern, arising from this request for proposals that the  Pallister  government is seeking to privatize park spaces and activities within parks.  I spoke of the importance of our parks to all Manitobans and that the focus of our efforts in relation to parks should be on enabling Manitobans to get exposure to nature and physical  exercise  in our parks and why this is so important to our health and well-being.  My Members Statement is below.   You can also see it in video on line at this link. 

In Support of Our Provincial Parks

Provincial parks are an essential public service.  They were a lifeline for many Manitobans this summer during the pandemic. Our parks provide access to nature and its gifts - from vigorous canoeing to calm reflection, from a glimpse of history to a sampling of Manitoba’s biodiversity, from fishing in summer to cross-country skiing in winter.

Naomi and I had three days in the Whiteshell provincial park this year and we hiked part of the Mantario trail. It is a great place for nature – which Oscar Wilde defined as ”a place where birds fly around uncooked.”  There were eagles, loons, pipits, rusty blackbirds and many more – all flying free.

Sadly the Pallister government has severely cut the staff who support our parks and who address ecological issues like climate change.  Sadly, the Pallister government has commissioned a major study of our parks with the primary objective to “increase visitor spending, revenues and cost recovery.”   While I am for wise spending, our primary objective in parks should be enhancing health and learning about history.

The natural world and the physical exercise we get in our parks give extraordinary health benefits. John Ratey in his book Spark highlights science showing that physical exercise builds and conditions the brain.  Putting exercise first can be important step to academic excellence.  Florence Williams in her book The Nature Fix reviews science showing that forests and lakes decrease stress, help our mental well being and increase our immune boosting cells.  Richard Luov in his book The  Last Child in the Woods shows how our parks can decrease the symptoms of ADHD and save our children from nature deficit  disorder. 

I call on our province to focus on parks as nature, health, beauty and wonder, not as just another place to monetize and privatize.    



Popular posts from this blog

Comparison between Manitoba and South Dakota shows dramatic impact of Physical Distancing

Manitoba implemented physical distancing measures in mid-March.  South Dakota has still not made physical distancing mandatory.   The result is a dramatic difference in the incidence of covid-19 viral infections between the two jurisdictions.   This graph shows the number of people with Covid-19 infections from March 27 to April 14.  Manitoba ( red line )  started leveling off about April 4 and has seen only a small increase in Covid-19 infections since then.   South Dakota ( blue line )   has seen a dramatic increase in Covid-19 infections since April 4.  Those who are skeptical of the impact of physical distancing in Manitoba should look at this graph! Data are from the Johns Hopkins daily tabulations

Why was Skinner's restaurant removed from the Forks Market when there so much empty space there?

Wednesday, December 4 I asked in Question Period about the large amount of vacant space at the Forks Market, some of which had been vacant for two or more years.  I also asked specifically as to why the renowned Skinner's Restaurant was removed from the Forks Market when there is so much empty space now.  My question and the Minister's response are below.    A video of the exchange can be seen at this link - The Forks Market -  Vacancy Management Hon. Jon  Gerrard   (River Heights): Madam Speaker, today The Forks Market has a lot of empty space, much of it empty for two or more years. The list of vacant space includes what was formerly Muddy Waters smokehouse, Beachcombers, Skinners, Dragon House, Aida Crystal, significant parts of Sydney's, Sushi Train, and several balcony businesses a lot–along with a lot of unused former administrative space.       The minister overseeing municipal affairs is responsible for oversight of The Forks,

An awful and uncaring Pallister government goes after the most vulnerable children in our province

Like a sleuth in the night, the Pallister government is cunningly using a bill, bill 34, [updated this is now (Oct 2020) Bill 2] called the Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act 2020, to prevent the return of millions of dollars which was taken away from children in the care of the government.  The monies in question are called the "Children's Special Allowances" or the "federal special allowances for children".  In brief, under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin,  a Canada Child Benefit was established to help support children.  For children in the care of child and family services, where the parents are not directly looking after the children the money is paid to the agencies to help support the children.  There was a time when these monies were being used effectively by child welfare agencies to support children.   Some agencies used these funds in part to provide services to help the children they were looking after and in part into a trust fund