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Sixth Outdoor Track to be Upgraded

Grant Park will be the sixth outdoor track upgraded in the last five years, a movement championed by Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital). Mays, a lifelong running enthusiast, first spearheaded upgrades for the surface outside Victor Mager School in 2019. It was the first time any major work had been done on any of Winnipeg’s 25 outdoor tracks since 1967.“I sort of thought I was done and then COVID came along and I thought, ‘You know, I could just keep going,’” Mays said. In 2020, the councillor assembled a report that looked at upgrading at least eight more tracks, an undertaking valued at around $3.245 million. Since then, the 400-m ovals at Garden City and River East Collegiate and 200-m surface at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate (which opens this summer) have been rubberized, while construction on the 300m track at Collège Béliveau will begin this year.“These facilities hadn’t been updated in decades, it’s way less expensive to do this than to build even one indoor arena,” Mayes said. “It’s been a good deal for the city in that we’ve put money into them and said, ’School divisions, you have to maintain them,’ and the school divisions have been great. "The Grant Park track will be the most expensive makeover to date, largely owing to drainage issues with the existing facility. “When we were there recently, it was just covered in water,” Orlikow said. “That’s going to be a cost and they’ll have to look into which way they (drain), to Nathaniel Street or do they go up to Taylor Avenue. ”Mayes maintained the movement has “been one of the highlights of my working career” and that he’s pushing for one more upgrade somewhere in the West End. “If we did one more in the West End I’d feel pretty good,” he said. “We talked to Canadian Mennonite (University) and it just didn’t work out. Maybe Westwood Collegiate, maybe somewhere else.”

Rubber will meet the road when the outdoor track at the Grant Park Recreation Complex is upgraded this summer. The six-lane 400-metre oval behind Grant Park High School will undergo a $1.4 million makeover from cracked pavement to a modern rubberized surface. The track was resurfaced ahead of the 1999 Pan Games but will receive more permanent treatment thanks to the city allocating $897,000 to the Winnipeg School Division, the owner of the land on which the track sits. “It was the (choice) because the majority of the funding was secured (in 2018) for the Grant Park Recreational Plex — which is the library part of it, the pool, soccer field and the playground out front — so it was always a part of that model. The funding was already earmarked years ago for something, it was undefined what that would be,” said Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights/Fort Garry).The 400-metre track at Grant Park high school will be upgrade from concrete to a rubberized surface this summer. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press)The 400-metre track at Grant Park high school will be upgrade from concrete to a rubberized surface this summer. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press)“At the end of the day, we wanted to move forward with a project that was doable and secure the funds sooner than later, so the track worked out perfectly. ”A revitalized fitness facility has been in talks among community members for years, said Jamie Hutchinson, principal at Grant Park High School. “This is not necessarily so much a school thing as it is a community thing,” Hutchinson said. “This is a unique place. If you come here in the summer… you drive up at seven in the morning and there’s cars, people unloading their rollerblades, people coming out running and seniors out there. It’s kind of a unique community gathering area. ”The track is used to host a running program offered by the school, private and public school meets and training sessions by Special Olympics Manitoba. “Very excited. From a school perspective, it’s utilized quite a lot,” Hutchinson said. “We have a vibrant athletics program with track and field and cross country, so it’s definitely going to be utilized there and cut down on some wear and tear on kids’ joints out on the track.”

Joshua Frey-Sam-Reporter

X: @jfreysam

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