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'A tourist in my own city': Winnipeg woman vies to visit city's 1,335 parks

Julie Navitka, 33, has kept active this year, exploring 892 parks so far while running and biking.

Since spring break in March, Julie Navitka has either ran or biked to around 892 parks in Winnipeg.

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Supplied / Julie Navitka

Since spring break in March, Julie Navitka has either ran or biked to around 892 parks in Winnipeg.

A Winnipeg woman is vying to visit all 1,335 of Winnipeg's parks this year – more than the city’s parks and open spaces manager said he’s been to himself.

After a year of traveling abroad, Julie Navitka said she returned home and didn’t want to stop exploring.

“When you’re being a tourist… wherever you are, you make an effort to go out and see the things that are worth seeing,” said the 33-year-old elementary school teacher.

“When I got home, I was just so used to doing that all day long and being busy that I kind of started to think, ‘Well, I should probably just be a tourist in my own city.’”

Since spring break in March, Navitka ran or biked around 892 parks – an estimated 800 kilometres of cycling and 320 kilometres on foot. She has 443 parks to go and is hoping to finish the quest before winter takes hold.

So far, she’s found nooks and crannies of Winnipeg she’d never even heard of –places like the witch’s hut at Rotary Centenary Park and the wooded trails of Pollock Island in St. Norbert.

“I’m basically visiting every single area and neighbourhood in Winnipeg and sometimes I think, ‘Wow, in 33 years of living here, I’ve never even been in this area,’” Navitka said.

She’s also noticed some dilapidated tot lots and more run-down play structures, particularly around Main St. and Selkirk Ave., she said.

The city’s online inventory lists some green spaces like boulevards and riverbanks as parks, too. Dave Domke, manager of the parks and open spaces division, said the lengthy list is grouped into categories: regional, community, neighbourhood and ‘other,’ which can designate buffer zones or small slices of land.

Last spring, the department released its delayed 2015 report on park assets, which Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt argued wasn’t detailed enough.

The report stated roughly 81 per cent of the city’s parks are in fair condition or better, and nine per cent haven’t been reviewed yet, leaving one in 10 in poor condition.

About 10 summer students recently completed a summer review of the parks, which includes updates on about 65,000 park assets, Domke said Wednesday.

“We just finished inventory, now we’re trying to make sense of it and categorize it and put values to it. So the next generation of reports will be improved compared to last year,” he said.

For those with tips on where park improvements can be made, he suggested contacting 311.

As for Navitka, she’s not sure she’d recommend visiting every single park to other Winnipeggers, calling it “quite the endeavour.”

“But in general I definitely urge people to go out and explore Winnipeg because it has so much more to offer than we know,” she said.

-With files from Braeden Jones

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