On wheels, by foot, or by paddle, hundreds of people pass through Wascana Park on a daily basis.
Despite the festive atmosphere and pleasant summer weather, there’s growing concern large businesses could be moving in as well, with two major projects currently in the works.
“We want to keep the park as a place for people, for recreation, for nature, for conservation, we want to keep the park like it is,” Ward 2 Councillor Bob Hawkins said. “We don’t think we need more commercial development in the park.”
Hawkins is one of three city Councillors urging a halt to commercial development in Wascana. Hawkins, Ward 3 Councillor Andrew Stevens and Ward 4 Councillor Lori Bresciani have put forward a notice of motion asking Mayor Michael Fougere to send a letter to the Provincial Capital Commission, which governs the park, opposing future projects that don’t benefit park users.
They also want the Commission to start public consultation addressing the park’s future.
Protests have been popping up around the city since Conexus Credit Union broke ground on an 80,000 square foot building on park land.
Groups like ‘No Business in the Park’ worry it opens the door for more development in the future.
“It had to be built from scratch. A tremendous effort over a century to build this park in the middle of a prairie,” member Jim Gallagher said. “Why on earth would anybody think it’s okay to put a commercial establishment in such a park?”
Not all businesses are in their bad books, with a restaurant and boat rentals flourishing on the water.
“Those kinds of things serve the immediate needs of the people using the park,” Hawkins explained. “It’s not that we’re worried about. We’re worried about office towers and hotels and banks and retail space.”
“We have lots of space downtown for commercial development. This is a place for people where they can enjoy the outdoors and enjoy nature all seasons of the year.”
City council will debate the matter at its monthly meeting on August 27th.