Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Sunny Day In The Park

Yesterday I visited Curran Park for the first time since it was privatised some time ago. Curran Park was formerly owned and operated by the City of Brandon, and consists of a pool, campground, ball diamonds, miniature golf, and a host of other recreational activities. Issues of maintenance and continuous flooding caused the city to wash its hands of the park, and to sell it. Seeing it for the first time in several years, the first impression that struck me was how crowded the campgrounds were. There was literally a trailer or camper in almost every spot, and I do not remember ever seeing the park that busy before.

However, there is a cloud to this silver lining. Curran Park is a couple of kilmoetres west of 18th street in Brandon, and not readily accessible to anyone without a vehicle. It used to be that Curran Park could be accessed via passenger ferry from Queen Elizabeth Park, but this was discontinued after the park was sold. The ferry came into existence just before the City started expanding its recreational trail system for cyclists and pedestrians. Curran Park could have been a great part of that network. The problem was that the city viewed park management from a value for dollar perspective. From a financial standpoint, the park was not work holding onto. However, there is also the social good aspect. This doesn't measure value by dollars, but by intangible benefits it provides the city in enhancing its quality of life. From that standpoint, Curran Park, despite being a private campground, still provides that benefit for Brandon, regardless of the financial costs it takes to operate.


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