Nature-lovers are getting welcome news, just in time for summer.
Two new funds are coming to Manitoba focussing on outdoor recreation, totalling $22.5 million.
Standing on the not-yet green grass of Beaudry Provincial Park, Premier Brian Pallister and Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard announced a $20-million Provincial Parks Endowment Fund. This Earth-Day announcement is to aid in the new and changing costs and demands in provincial parks.
"I know that not just individuals but families and their pets were certainly frequently here using this beautiful place. Our parks have helped, in many anyways I think, Manitobans get through the stress and the anxiety, mental health issues that are real through this COVID pandemic," Premier Pallister says with the Assiniboine River behind him.
Pallister wants Manitobans to explore the relationship between humans and nature, saying the beauty and recreational activities in these parks help with spiritual and mental wellbeing. The Premier says the province is proud of its parks.
Citizens and stakeholders will determine where the funds will go, including restoring already-in-place infrastructure.
Projects could include:
• development and maintenance of trails and boardwalks
• improvements to amphitheatres, shelters, playground equipment, docks and launches
• park road maintenance
• habitat restoration and enhancement
• historical assets and cultural sites
• infrastructure to support programming
• machinery and operational equipment
• municipal servicing infrastructure
• campground enhancements
• interpretive infrastructure to support programming
The Winnipeg Foundation will be managing the fund. On Wednesday, it was announced they will also be managing an employment endowment from the province.
The province is hoping the investment will inspire others to contribute to the endowment.
"Donors can offer their support to their beloved provincial parks. We already have, I am told, close to $1.5 million of private donations that have been offered as a consequence of that matching."
Two dollars for every dollar donated will come from the endowment. The ongoing funding does not replace what is already given to provincial parks.
This announcement follows Wednesday's $2.5 million commitment to trails.
“We have seen phenomenal growth in the number of people using our provincial parks and our trails, so there is interest in this type of expansion,” Guillemard says in a Wednesday statement.
These funds will be used to build new recreational trails as well as maintain and expand current ones.
In the past year, the province has seen a massive shift of people turning to the outdoors for recreation. In early April, the province opened up its campsite bookings and was slammed with 10,000 more people online than its previous 2,804 total. Guillemard says in a recent EngageMB survey with two thousand respondents, almost half confirmed they have used an outdoor trail for activities such as hiking, paddling, or off-road riding in the past year.