Victoria Park set for makeover

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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City of St. John’s budgets $1M for revitalization project

The City of St. John’s announced plans Friday to kickstart a project to revitalize one of its oldest municipal parks with a $1-million expenditure.

Located in the city’s west end, Victoria Park opened in 1890. Mayor Dennis O’Keefe and Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay said the city plans to spruce up the 6.5-acre park.

“Myself and Mayor O’Keefe had some discussions during the election campaign (in 2013) about a process that we would like to take to ensure that we revitalize Victoria Park,” said Galgay, who joined O’Keefe in the park Friday to meet with reporters.

“It’s one of the oldest parks in the city of St. John’s, and the last to receive any kind of significant seed funding for any type of revitalization.”

The city will follow a template similar to how Bannerman Park’s redevelopment was handled. That work was spearheaded by the Bannerman Park Foundation, which has raised $2.5 million to contribute to that park’s makeover.

“This is the beginning,” said O’Keefe. “We now will start a process of engaging more and more people, companies and others into this process, and at the end of the day we’re going to have one of the most beautiful recreational areas and quiet parks in the wonderful city of St. John’s.”

While city council members such as  O’Keefe and Galgay may have their own ideas about what should be done with the park, the city will solicit feedback from residents there through a public consultation process about how to spend money. Galgay said that will likely happen in the next couple of months.

It’s one of the oldest parks in the city of St. John’s, and the last to receive any kind of significant seed funding for any type of revitalization. Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Galgay

O’Keefe would like to see Bennett’s Creek made visible. Running through the centre of the park’s upper half and down its southwest side the rest of the way, the creek was covered up by the city several decades ago.

“That will make this park unique,” said the mayor. “If we can open up the cascades that flow down over the hill from Hamilton Avenue ... it would be absolutely tremendous.”

Galgay said the poolhouse deserves to either be renovated or rebuilt, given its present state. He also suggested enhanced lighting would be a good use of funds.

Half of the city’s $1-million expenditure comes from the provincial government’s one-time payment to municipalities announced in this year’s budget.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Bannerman Park Foundation

Geographic location: Victoria Park, Hamilton Avenue

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  • Virginia Waters
    May 11, 2014 - 00:30

    So the same level of government that blew untold sums getting rid of this river will now spend a million taxpayer dollars bringing it back. Sounds about right. What you wanna bet a future city council won't spend another million replacing the ugly fence Mr. O'Keefe built to keep tourists away from our historic harbour.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    May 10, 2014 - 09:09

    We have people at hospital emergency with no beds, roads a little more than woods paths, no money to hold on to and display a once-in-a-life-time blue whale gift, and on and on it goes ------ but we have hundreds of thousands of dollars for a city park makeover. Are we living in the real world?