FAQs about the project

FAQs about the project

What is Rotary?

Answer:
Rotary International is an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and non-religious organization open to all. There are over 35,000 member clubs worldwide, with a membership of 1.2 million individuals, known as Rotarians.   

Why does the Charleswood Rotary care about the Assiniboine Forest?
Answer:
The Charleswood Rotary Club, working together with the City of Winnipeg Naturalists, has been the steward of the Assiniboine Forest for over 30 years. As part of the Club’s Community Service mandate, it has taken pride in efforts to keep the functionality of the Forest while maintaining the ecological beauty for the residents of Charleswood and Winnipeg.

What has the Charleswood Rotary Club previously done in the Forest?
Answer:
Since 1990, the Charleswood Rotary Club has raised over $600,000 in private fundraising and government grants along with thousands of hours of “Club member Sweat Equity” to apply towards projects in the Forest. The Club was responsible for the design and construction of the Eve Werier Pond boardwalk and later refurbishment due to damage, funding the Green Team of summer maintenance workers, cleaning up a municipal waste dump site on the southeast section of the Forest and planting native grasses and plant species, rehabilitating a section of the Forest along Shaftesbury where the drainage was compromised when by the extension of Shaftesbury to Wilkes was constructed, development of the Chalfont & Grant parking lot along with enhancing the front entrance and gates, installation of way-finding signs throughout the Forest, managed a Canada Thistle control program on the observation mounds adjacent to the Eve Werier Pond, completion of storage facilities for the Green Team equipment, and other trail maintenance efforts.

What is Charleswood Rotary’s Assiniboine Forest Enhancement Plan?
Answer:
The Charleswood Rotary Club’s plan for the Forest is to implement a number of projects in phases that will enhance the Forest experience for visitors, while minimizing the environmental impact. The intent is to continue balancing public access to the Forest, while keeping its natural beauty. The Phase One projects include improvements to refresh the Chalfont & Grant parking lot entrance area, potentially upgrading some of existing mud and grass trails in the eastern and southern sections of the forest to wood chip or hard packed stone to encourage visitors to explore less utilized areas of the forest. Enhancements to the Sagimay Trail by replacing sections of existing wood chip trails with hard packed stone to increase the Forest experience for those visitors with mobility challenges, refurbishment of way-finding signs & installation of QR code signs, installation of seasonal portable toilets near the Chalfont & Grant entrance.

Why do they want to put in a new parking lot in the Forest?
Answer:

Phase two of the enhancement plan is to look at ways to take pressure off the adjacent streets where Forest visitors are currently parking their vehicles. The Charleswood Rotary Club is examining potential locations for the construction of a more environmentally designed parking area for approximately 40 vehicles, lot on the eastern edge of the Forest, both within and outside the Forest. This will also help to balance visitors in the forest by increasing the number of people who use the trails on the east side of the Forest. If the parking lot area is constructed within the Forest boundaries, it will probably be located on the refurbished municipal waste dump site.

Why are they adding new trails?
Answer:

The Charleswood Rotary Club is not proposing to add new trails. They are planning to upgrade some existing mud and grass trails in the eastern and southern sections of the Forest to wood chip or hard packed crushed stone trails. This will help to balance visitors throughout the Forest, and make it appear less crowded.

Why are they adding new paved asphalt trails?
Answer:

The Charleswood Rotary Club is not proposing new paved asphalt trails. The Club is planning on increasing the accessible section of the Sagamay Trail to provide people with disabilities with a more enhanced forest experience by using hard packed crushed stone on a small section of existing wood chip and mud and grass trails to provide an alternative path back to the Chalfont parking lot.

Why are they building an Interpretive Center?
Answer:

While part of the original planning study, the need for construction of an Interpretive Center building is no longer seen as a priority, since much of the interpretive information can be provided to visitors with signage and the use of technology through applications.

Why are they installing public washrooms?
Answer:
Permanent public washrooms were considered part of the interpretive centre. Any public washrooms which may be considered in the future will likely be more seasonal in nature.

Why do they want to cut down trees?
Answer:
The Charleswood Rotary Club is only removing primarily dangerous or fallen trees along those existing mud and grass trails that are being upgraded to wood chip trails, to provide adequate walking width for visitors. If it can be done in an environmentally sensitive way, the Charleswood Rotary Club would be willing to plant new trees, to replace those remove for trail enhancements. 

Why are they adding lights to the trails?
Answer:
There are no plans to add lights to the trails in the Forest.

Why are they adding new signs throughout the Forest?
Answer:

The initiative to add signs includes replacement of the existing roadway sign and refreshment of the Chalfont and Grant Forest entrance way, refurbishment of way-finding signs throughout the Forest, installation of signs to control off-leash dogs and cyclists not yielding to pedestrians, and the development of interpretive signage. The interpretive signs may also be an opportunity to profile the history of the area’s indigenous peoples as well as providing basic information about the Forest’s flora and fauna.

Why can’t they just leave the Forest as it is?
Answer:

The Forest is a natural environment that is impacted by the daily visitors walking and cycling on and off trails. The trails must be maintained and upgraded to preserve the functionality of the existing trails and protect them from overuse. Trees that are damaged and other debris and garbage that fall on the trails, must be removed for the safety of visitors

What are they doing about off-leash dogs?
Answer:
The Charleswood Rotary club hopes to curtail visitors allowing their dogs off-leash through the use of signs on the Forest trails.

What are they doing about speeding bicycles & off trail bicycle riders?
Answer:

The Charleswood Rotary club hopes to curtail speeding bicycles and off trail riders through the use of signs on the Forest trails.

Why do they want to turn the forest into a theme park?
Answer:

There are no plans to turn the Forest into a theme park.

Why are they putting in cross country ski trails?
Answer:

There is an interest from nearby schools and cross country skiers for additional winter activity trails, and the trails will be planned so that they do not interfere with walkers on the main paths in the Forest.

What are they doing about the Forest becoming too popular and crowded? They should look for ways to discourage people from coming to the Forest, not enhancing it.
Answer:

People from all over the city have discovered the beauty of the Assiniboine Forest, and have just as much of a right to visit the Forest as anyone else. The Charleswood Rotary Club is attempting to balance visitors throughout the Forest by upgrading existing mud & grass trails on the eastern and southern sections of the Forest and the construction of a new parking lot on the eastern edge of the Forest. However, there is nothing else that can be done to prevent the Forest from becoming too popular and crowded. People from all over the city have discovered the beauty of the Assiniboine Forest during the Pandemic, and will continue to visit after the Pandemic is over.

Why do they want to install benches in the Forest?
Answer:
Installation of benches in the Forest benefit older visitors who need to rest and those who want to sit and contemplate on the beauty of the Forest.

Why do they want to expand the Chalfont & Grant parking lot?
Answer:
There are no plans to expand the Chalfont & Grant parking lot.

Why are they planning to provide Guided Tours in the Forest?
Answer:

The Green Team members  and other city naturalists occasionally provide guided tours in the Forest if visitors ask, but this is not an organized event.

Why aren’t they putting in a cross walk on Shaftesbury near the Taylor & Shaftesbury entrance?
Answer:
A cross walk has been installed at Shaftesbury and Taylor in November 2021.

Why aren’t they discouraging people from driving to the Forest?
Answer:
People from all over the city have discovered the beauty of the Assiniboine Forest, and have just as much of a right to visit the Forest, but live too far away to walk or cycle there.

Why aren’t they maintaining the environmental sensitivity of the Forest?
Answer:
Any projects planned within the Forest will be done with minimal environmental impact.

Why aren’t they recognizing the indigenous history of the Forest?
Answer:
The Charleswood Rotary Club plans on utilizing the interpretive signs to provide information on the indigenous history of the Forest,  as well as show acknowledgement to the use of the lands by indigenous peoples.

Why aren’t they planting new trees in the Forest?
Answer:

The Charleswood Rotary Club supports planting of new trees, but needs to respect the ecological sensitivity of the Forest and grasslands.

What are they doing about the thistle plants that are invading the Forest?
Answer:

The Charleswood Rotary Club previously had implemented a 4 year thistle abatement program over 10 years ago near the mound at the Eve Werier Pond. Since Canada Thistle is an invasive species, it may be time to repeat the initiative.

What are they doing about protecting the wild flowers in the Forest?
Answer:

The Charleswood Rotary Club intends to minimize ecological impacts on wild flowers when upgrading existing mud and grass trails.

Who is paying for all of these additions to the Forest?
Answer:

The Charleswood Rotary Club is currently planning on raising $800,000 in private funding and government grants to pay for the planned Forest Enhancement initiatives.

How is the money being raised?
Answer:
The Charleswood Rotary Club has started a Chase the Ace Lottery that can be accessed at www.rotarychasetheace.org  to generate funds. It is also accepting donations from individuals at www.fundourforest.org , and is approaching companies to seek corporate donations.  The Club is applying for Federal, Provincial and Municipal public grants to meet our fund raising objective

Do you have a Facebook page?

Answer:
Yes, we have 2 Facebook pages. One is specific to the Assiniboine Forest at: https://www.facebook.com/Friends-of-the-Assiniboine-Forest-113687714138577. The other Facebook page is for the Charleswood Rotary Club at https://www.facebook.com/wpgcharleswoodrotary/ . Please like our posts and share them with your friends.

Where can I donate?
Answer:
You can donate to the Friends of the Forest campaign by going to www.fundourforest.org  and clicking on the Donate button. All donations are tax deductible and a receipt will be issued.

Are there volunteer opportunities?
Answer:

There are a number of projects within the Forest that will require volunteer labour within the Forest. There are additional volunteer opportunities in the planning and design aspect of the projects. Please contact the Charleswood Rotary Club members at https://portal.clubrunner.ca/1000/singleemail/contactus

Is there handicapped parking at the Forest?
Answer:

There is currently no handicapped parking at the Forest, but it is a great idea that should be implemented when the parking lot entrance is refreshed.

I have questions and concerns. Who can I contact?
Answer:

You can contact us by going to the Fund our Forest website www.fundourforest.org and click on the Contact Us button at the top of the front page to express your questions or concerns. 

Will there be an opportunity for additional public input?
Answer:

The Charleswood Rotary Club is retaining a consultant to prepare a draft development plan. Before the plan is finalized, there will be a public consultation to obtain input.

How will these plans impact wildlife in the Forest?
Answer:

The wildlife are already stressed by the volume of visitors in the Forest and those walking off trail, and while these enhancement plans will not reduce the volume of visitors in the Forest, they will help to balance visitors more broadly throughout the Forest, and hopefully keep visitors on the maintained trails.

Who is responsible for the Forest maintenance at the City of Winnipeg?
Answer:

The Forest is managed by the City of Winnipeg’s Naturalist Department, within the Parks and Open Spaces area of Public Works.

What is the City’s annual budget for the Forest?
Answer:

The City does not have a defined budget for the Forest. Any money spent on the Forest comes from the City’s Public Works and Open Spaces overall budget. Additionally, other departments sometimes contribute by providing services in the Forest like snow & garbage removal.

Who Funds the Green Team?
Answer:

The Green Team is primarily funded by the Charleswood Rotary Club and a Provincial government grant.

What does the Green Team do?
Answer:
The Green Team provides trail and general maintenance functions within the Forest during the summer months.

Why are there shipping containers in the Forest?
Answer:

The shipping containers near the Grant & Chalfont entrance provide equipment storage and office space required for the Green Team

Why is there only one porta-potty by the Grant & Chalfont entrance?
Answer:

The porta-potty is actually not a public washroom, but installed for the Green Team staff to use as part of their work space.

Why is there a fire hydrant in the middle of the Forest?
Answer:

The fire hydrant is in the middle of the Forest to provide fire management capabilities to the City Fire Department in the event of a forest fire.

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