Restaurant bearing brunt of city's decision to close Kildonan Park, owner says

The owner of a restaurant in Kildonan Park is worried the City of Winnipeg's move to close the park over safety concerns in the wake of the snowstorm earlier this month will force the business to fold.

The City of Winnipeg says four parks could be closed for several weeks

Kildonan Park, which is home to Prairie's Edge restaurant, and three other city parks are expected to remain closed for weeks. (Jerry Grajewski, Grajewski Fotograph Inc.)

The owner of a restaurant in Kildonan Park is worried the City of Winnipeg's move to close the park will force his business to fold.

Last week, the city closed four parks over safety concerns in the wake of the snowstorm earlier this month.

Doug Stephen, the president of Wow Hospitality Concepts — which owns and manages Prairie's Edge restaurant — said he hasn't been told how long Kildonan Park will be closed for.

"My real issue is the fact that they've closed this park without any particular concern for us and our business," he told CBC News.

Starting Wednesday, Prairie's Edge is holding a pop-up restaurant on the Esplanade Riel in the Mon Ami Louis space.

But that's a stop-gap measure, he said. Most people don't want to walk across a bridge in cold, windy weather to dine in the seasonal space.

Work continues to clean up after thousands of Winnipeg trees were damaged in a snowstorm earlier this month. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The pop-up is open Oct. 23-25, the 27th, and Oct. 30-Nov. 3. It will offer limited menu items during varying hours from Wednesday to Sunday.

After the two weeks, Stephen said Wow Hospitality will reassess the situation.

"If this is a prolonged closure, the challenge for me is do we just shutter the restaurant," he said.

"It isn't worth our while to continue to lose money while we wait for the city to decide when they're going to look after that problem."

Stephen told CBC News Prairie's Edge employs 25 people. If the restaurant closes, those employees will hopefully find work at the other restaurants Wow Hospitality manages.

Storm cleanup

The City of Winnipeg said more than 30,000 city-owned trees were damaged in the snowstorm. The situation was so dire that the city declared a state of emergency.

In terms of cleanup, parks rank low on the city's priority list. That doesn't bode well for Stephen.

He said the city crews surveyed the damage to the park and told him there are about a dozen branches that need to be dealt with and a transmission line that's down.

Stephen asked if they could barricade most roads through the park but keep the road to the restaurant open, but was told that's impossible.

In addition to Kildonan Park, Crescent Drive Park, St. Vital Park and King's Park are also closed and expected to remain that way for a number of weeks.

"As we work to recover from the recent storm, the City's first priority is – and will continue to be – public safety," the city said in a statement. 

"When crews attended to inspect regional parks late last week, the four now-closed parks were deemed unsafe due to the potential for falling trees and branches. We do not have a timeline for reopening the parks."

The city wouldn't comment on the restaurant specifically.