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Calls to close roads in Wascana Park continue to grow

Calls are continuing to mount for the Wascana Park Authority to close the roads around Wascana Lake. 

Previously, Bike Regina had written a letter to the Provincial Capital Commission — which runs the park. Now, some runners are adding their voices. 

“Surely, they’re preaching people for mental health to get out, get fresh air,” Ted Jaleta said. “[The PCC] needs to listen to a lot of the public.”

Jaleta is a well-known runner who uses the park at about 5 a.m. CST each morning. He said larger cities like Seattle have closed down kilometres of roads for pedestrians. 

The Provincial Capital Commission said it is not considering road closures at this time. It said it has clearly marked one-way paths and is asking people to not congregate in parking lots so they can keep the park open. 

As well, the PCC said it needs the routes for emergency services and employees of workplaces in the park such as SaskPower, the Legislature and Department of National Defence. 

Jaleta said he appreciated changing the path to one-way and called the move a good effort.

One way signs were put up in Wascana Park on Friday, April 3, 2020. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

He said he’s not advocating for cement blocks, as that would hinder emergency vehicles. Instead, he wants the road closed to people driving through or driving to park. This way, he said, it would allow emergency vehicles and workers to get through. 

The PCC also said road closures wouldn’t be feasible because sidewalk improvement work is being done along Wascana Drive. 

Jaleta said there are other parks but Wascana Park is the largest urban park. 

“Why they cannot do it, I just don’t get it,” he said. “Right now, the cars, number driving is significantly reduced. Why people need to go around — they can walk — the park is very small.” 

Google Survey highlights park use in Sask.

The COVID-19 Community Mobility Report published by Google on May 2 says Canadians in general are attending parks 15 per cent more than average. 

By the end of April, Saskatchewan residents went to parks 80 per cent more than the baseline average. 

Jaleta said closing the roads wouldn’t flood the park with people because people would understand the limits. 

“We are people, we listen, we don’t have to treat people like they will show up as a herd,” Jaleta said. “People will respect the rules and what the guideline is I’m sure.”

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