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Winnipeg’s Gord Dong Park breaks ground ahead of transformation

Councillor Mike Pagtakhan, second from right, and Gord Dong, right, help break ground on Gord Dong Park's redevelopment.
Councillor Mike Pagtakhan, second from right, and Gord Dong, right, help break ground on Gord Dong Park's redevelopment. Diana Foxall/Global News

Gord Dong Park in Winnipeg’s Centennial neighbourhood will look very different come mid-September.

The chunk of green space is largely empty these days, save for a couple trees and a few planters maintained by community gardeners.

But that’s all set to change beginning this week, as the park on Pacific Avenue is undergoing upgrades that will see various amenities added, including better lighting, two fire pits, a community oven, seating areas, a path and a fruit orchard.

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Mike Pagtakhan, Point Douglas councillor and chair of the city’s Protection, Community Service and Parks committee, said the improvements to the park will benefit local residents.

A report last year at city hall indicated that the majority of Winnipeg’s parks are in good shape, with 80 per cent listed as being in fair to very good condition.

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But 14 per cent are considered to be in poor or very poor shape. The final six per cent have yet to be evaluated.

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“This investment here at Gord Dong Park is a huge thing in terms of helping keep the inventory of parks at a really good level,” Pagtakhan said. “I’m really happy to say that every year we invest quite a number of dollars into parks and recreation enhancement, and this one of the candidates of that.”

The space is named after Gord Dong, a longtime resident of Chinatown and the Centennial neighbourhood, who lives just doors away from the park.

“There’s lots of newcomers in this area,” Dong said, mentioning the possibility of a farmers market onsite in the future. “I see a very active location.”

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“It’s sort of a much-needed amenity — this is different than having a traditional playground with slides and swings and all that,” Pagtakhan said of the upgrades, which are catered towards adults. “There’s a lot of students and professionals who are working here and had expressed interest in doing either a fitness trail or an area where they could sort of sit back and reflect and read and write poetry or garden or whatever the case may be.”

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Pagtakhan said Roger Le Grand Park in Meadowswest recently saw redevelopment and others, including Finestone Park in the Tyndall Park neighbourhood, are being eyed for similar improvements.

“Parks are really the living rooms of the city. They’re places for people to meet, talk and build community and for kids to play in,” Pagtakhan said.

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“Investing in parks is a huge municipal responsibility that I’ve seen and something that I’ve been committed to — hopefully my successor will continue that.”