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CUPE is trying to stop Winnipeg city council’s plans to drop responsibility for beautiful Assiniboine Park.

In early July, media reported that the city “wants to create a new arm’s-length body to govern the entire park.”

While the details of the plan are not yet public, CUPE fears the change will essentially put the park in private hands.

We told the city many times, that giving up control of the park was not good for the citizens of Winnipeg,” said Gary Swanson, president of CUPE 500, which represents city workers.

The option of having local non-governmental and non-profit organizations take over the park was being considered over the last year.

We realize the value of the volunteer groups to the park and their vested interest in aspects of park operation,” Swanson said. “However, once the city loses control of the park, it will lose its public focus. It will be the responsibility of the new board to run the park like a business, not a public asset.”

Swanson blamed the park’s woes on city council “The park is maintained by dedicated staff who are committed to providing the public with the best possible service,” Swanson said. “Our members are not the reason the park is declining. They have to deal with cutback after cutback in funding. (Council) created this mess in jurisdictional responsibility in 1998 when it dismantled the former Parks and Recreation Department.”

CUPE represents about 100 workers who maintain the park.