Winnipeg ranks among the lowest of the country’s large urban centres in terms of greenspace, and our tree canopy is under threat from urbanization and insect damage.
For the last 23 years, Bishop Grandin Greenway Inc (BGG) and community volunteers have been working on naturalizing the 4.5 km vacant corridor between the Red and Seine Rivers, running parallel to Bishop Grandin Boulevard (Abinojii Mikanah). Our vision is to enhance this linear greenspace and to develop a nature corridor.
Community consultations and open house events generated ideas on what the public wanted to see. Prominent on their list was a return to a natural environment that promoted biodiversity. Those thoughts gave berth to the conceptual plan that became known as Bittersweet Way, featuring a retaining wall and berm hosting native flowers, grasses and hardy wild rose bushes; and a secondary walking path that meanders through an urban forest, and past a historical commemorative circle.
A site was selected next to St. Mary’s Road that could support permaculture and an urban food forest using native plant species. In the fall of 2019, the hardscape was completed and and our thoughts turned to developing the natural landscape.
Our critera for selection included native or hard working trees/shrubs, that were drought tolerant, and suitable to soil and growing conditions for that area. Equally important were their contributions as food sources, shelter and nesting sites for birds and animals; and as attractions for pollinators. The urban forest area was to be conceptually divided into 3 sections: Native trees and shrubs (section A); mixed native vegetation with plants brought over by early settlers (Section B) and an urban fruit and nut food forest (section C).
In 2023 Bishop Grandin Greenway received one of 77 grants awarded by Tree Canada. Tree Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to planting and nurturing trees in rural and urban environments across our country. Foremost in their minds, is a plan that is viable and will be properly nurtured to ensure success. The grant covers the cost of purchasing and installing trees and shrubs for sections A and C as well as tree guards, soil, mulch and a very important 2-year watering and maintenance contract to help ensure the survival of the plantings.
We spent the summer preparing, and then on September 23, 2023, 14 volunteers planted 80 trees and shrubs, applied tree collars and spread 25 yards of mulch – all in less than 4 hours!
With 40 trees and shrubs planted in section B in 2021, Bittersweet Way’s new urban forest now consists of 120 newly planted trees and shrubs providing a foundation for the future tree canopy and sub canopy.
Over time we will adding the understory with taller perennials and cover layer. If you are interested in participating in this project and want join fellow community minded citizens please do not hesitate to reach out!
It was a pleasant morning on May 13 for our annual spring clean-up. And the turn-out was outstanding! 60 volunteers of all ages signed in on Saturday morning and helped to spruce up the Greenway, collectively filling over 200 garbage bags.
The community embraced our event as families, individuals and businesses came out to support the effort.
Special thanks to the Marin family for coming out and bringing Dakota Family Foods with them to hand out free hot dogs to volunteers! 50 free dogs were served by the time the event wrapped up.
A large group of 14 volunteers from Celero turned this into a multi-day event, coming out on Friday to clean up a section of the Greenway. Their effort is very much appreciated, as they tackled a section of the Greenway quite far from the "home base" at St. Mary's Rd and one that sees a lot of traffic.
The United Church in Meadowood and All Saints Kinsmen added to the effort, among many others. It was truly a group effort.
At the end of the day, the Greenway team delivered an amazing 490 kg of garbage to the landfill! That does not include the truck-full that the City of Winnipeg picked up from the folks who came out on Friday. It was possibly our most productive clean-up ever!
Thank you to everyone who came out!
On Monday, March 13, the City of Winnipeg made important progress in its pledge to rename Bishop Grandin Boulevard.
Abinojii Mikanah is the proposed name for Bishop Grandin Boulevard. It is an Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) phrase that translates to "Children's Roadway," representing the journey of all children, including residential school survivors, towards reconciliation.
Awasisak Mēskanow is the proposed name for the Bishop Grandin Trail. It is an Ininimowin (Cree) phrase, also meaning "Children's Roadway." The names for these parallel paths were chosen to represent the unity between Ojibwe and Cree Nations.
On Monday, March 13, the City of Winnipeg's Executive Policy Committee voted 5-1 in favour of the proposed renaming.
The proposed names would contribute to the renewal of Indigenous languages targeted by residential schools. Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin was an architect of this school system on the Canadian prairies. According to the City of Winnipeg's Indigenous Relations Division, the names are intended to "honour Indigenous experience, culture, and history."
"What we are wanting to do is honour all the children, survivors that came before us, the children that never made it home."
On March 23, the city council will vote on the motion to rename the trail, to endorse the renaming of boulevard, and to prepare an estimate of the associated costs. The estimated costs would later be presented to the next budget review process for consideration. The Bishop Grandin Greenway is a charity distinct from the Bishop Grandin Trail. We continue to support the city's renaming process. As it advances, we are engaging with city officials to inform how we proceed.
Rocks on the Greenway is back and bigger than ever!
Friends and volunteers have painted rocks and hidden them away on the Greenway between the Seine River and the Red River.
Explore the Greenway and keep an eye out for a flash of colour. It might be one of the rocks!
If you find one, let us know! Email us, Tweet us @BishopGrandin, or let know on Facebook at "Friends of Bishop Grandin Greenway"
As a long cold snowy winter dragged into a long cold rainy spring, the volunteer board at Bishop Grandin Greenway began planning for our annual spring clean-up on May 14th. Weather is always uncertain, but this year it seemed particularly so. Unsurprisingly, as clean-up day approached, temperatures were down, winds were up, and rain was in the forecast.
Regardless of the forecast, we knew the community would come through. About three dozen volunteers showed up to help on a cool breezy morning. The rain was kind enough to hold off until after the clean-up, and the event ended up being one of our most productive yet.
We hauled two full trailers of garbage to the landfill, and the City of Winnipeg picked up some additional garbage bags filled by a dedicated volunteer working overtime. Approximately 130 bags were filled!
The usual assortment of items were collected -- fast food packaging, car parts and so on. Masks and hand sanitizer packets are now a frequently found items, and needles ("sharps" as they're sometimes known) have been found as well.
Included among the volunteers that Saturday were local elected representatives including Jamie Moses, MLA for St. Vital, Rochelle Squires, MLA for Riel, and Brian Mayes, Councillor for St. Vital ward.
We give a big thanks to everyone who helped make this year's clean-up another success. It is always inspiring to see people come together to make the community a better place!
**NOTE: a pair of gloves was left behind. If they're yours, let us know. We still have them!
Our volunteer Master Gardener created an awesome video walkthrough of what the Bittersweet Way food forest and berm might look like when complete. Click on the graphic below and have a look!
We were happy to get our Food Forest project kicked off this past October with the first phase of planting.
Martin Crawford of the Agroforestry Research Trust defines a food forest, or a forest garden, as a "three-dimensional garden with useful plants." The plants are chosen so that they interact with one another in a beneficial and sustainable way. Some may produce food that people can eat, or berries and seeds for birds. Some may include traditional medicines, or flowers to support pollinators.
The unique project that our Greenway is planning includes three separate zones -- an area adjacent to the Commemoratives Circle at Bittersweet Way that features plants native to the area that Indigenous communities would have known and used; a second area that includes native plants as well as trees or shrubs that settlers may have brought over when they established their homesteads, like the one on this exact spot; and a third section with a mix of plants representative of current biodiversity in Manitoba.
Our planting this fall was in the second of the three zones, and included edible fruits like saskatoon, cranberry and raspberry, among other larger trees and smaller shrubs that will form the basis of this layered forest garden.
The Master Gardeners who helped plan this project were also instrumental in executing it, with a small team of helpers to spread 18 cubic yards of mulch and soak down the plants to help them get established. The small mountain of mulch, generously donated by Tommy's Natural Mulch, was needed to retain moisture and suppress weeds and grasses so that the plantings could thrive.
We are seeking donations to help us continue this project. Funds are needed to purchase plants for the other two phases of the food forest as well as bringing in soil and a water truck as needed. If you are interested in helping out please visit our Donation page. You can also contact us if you would like to get involved.
Thank you to all who helped with this fall planting. We are looking forward to doing more next year!
When the founders of Bishop Grandin Greenway started a non-profit organization to build a greenspace for the community, it seemed like the obvious choice: name it after the road that runs along its entire length. At the time, there was not a lot of thought given to who Bishop Grandin was.
We now know so much more. in 2009, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission started a 6 year journey travelling the country, hearing personal experiences of the Indian Residential School survivors and documenting the impacts.
It has become known since then that Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin was one of the architects of the Residential School system. The recent discovery of unmarked graves at former schools across Canada has prompted calls for the removal of his name from various landmarks -- a call that we support. On June 3 we made the following statement:
The volunteer board of Bishop Grandin Greenway Inc. acknowledges the harms of residential schools and the role Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin had in their establishment. We strongly support the City of Winnipeg's efforts to explore the removal of Bishop Grandin from Winnipeg landmarks, in the spirit of reconciliation.
The City of Winnipeg has initiated consultations with respect to the renaming of the Boulevard. Those consultations will likely lead to a new name for our Greenway as well -- perhaps the same as the Boulevard or perhaps something else, but we want to respect the consultation process and allow that to unfold.
There is no firm timeline around the selection of a new name, but we expect a report to council with a recommendation this fall. We anticipate working with the City during the renaming process, and will report back to you when more information is available.
We had nice weather and a great turn-out for our annual spring clean-up event May 8.
All told, about 50 volunteers showed up to help clean up the greenway including families with young kids, elected office holders, long-time time supporters and new. Together we collected over 250 kgs of garbage from the greenway plus a large metal pole that was recycled.
This was our second clean-up of the pandemic. After having a socially-distanced "clean-up week" last year we went back to a single day event this year. We found that people look forward to the event. It's a great way to engage with the community in a safe way and be a part of something positive.
We know that others have gone out to clean up parts of the Greenway on their own as well. All these efforts combined will make Bishop Grandin Greenway a beautiful place to spend a bit of time this summer!
The weather was ideal on Saturday, September 19 for the official opening of Bittersweet Way, our initiative to enhance the Greenway with a commemorative circle, signage and landscaping. Seeds of the project began growing 5 years ago, shovels hit the ground in 2019, and finally this fall we had an opportunity to show off our work and thank all of those who helped make it happen.
To wrap up the event, bittersweet vine, the namesake of the project, was planted near the commemorative circle. If you have not had a chance yet, you should visit the circle to read the plaques to take in the rich history of St.Vital and the former Lot 47 on which you stand.
Read more about the event in the Winnipeg Sun or watch CTV's coverage.
Thank you to Jamie Moses for being at the grand opening and recognizing Bishop Grandin Greenway's 20th anniversary!
Board members post updates about events and activities on the Greenway.