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 THUNDER BAY, ON  --  January 24, 2017  ---  The Friends of Chippewa Park were shocked today to learn that City Administration is recommending the closure of the Chippewa Park Wildlife Exhibit on May 1 this year as part of the 2017 operating budget.

“Viewing of wild animals has been part of the fabric of Chippewa Park since 1924” said Friends President, Lorraine Lortie-Krawczuk, “and hundreds of thousands of children and adults alike have had the opportunity to not only see the animals of Northwestern Ontario up close but to gain a better understanding of the way they live and for Council to even consider eliminating this quality of life feature is unacceptable.”

Lortie-Krawczuk also stated that the Friends cannot understand why Administration would make such a recommendation when Council is funding the creation of a new Vision Statement for Chippewa Park – and that Vision has yet to be completed or even presented to Council.  “How can you expect the public to believe that their input is important when decisions are made during the process that will have a profound impact on the park’s overall operation” she said. “This flies in the face of the Public Engagement Framework recently approved by Council.”

“At the same time the work that The Friends of Chippewa Park have accomplished, bringing in over $5 million dollars from other governments to upgrade the park, should be seen as a social contract that commits the City to maintaining the key elements of the park.”

The Friends President indicated that a recent on line survey[1] conducted by the non-profit organization found that 91% of respondents[2] who indicated that they visit the Wildlife Exhibit when at the park, supported maintaining the Exhibit as is, or expanding it with 68% supporting an expansion of the facility[3].
It is also important to note that the last time the City included the future of the Wildlife Exhibit in its’ Citizen Survey (2005 & 2007) 75% to 77% supported maintaining or enhancing the Wildlife Exhibit.

The Friends of Chippewa Park are launching a new petition requesting that City Council add the necessary funding back into the 2017 budget and to begin work to convert the Wildlife Exhibit to a Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Centre.  The results will be presented to Council prior to the final decision on the budget.

The Friends also announced that Parks and Open Spaces will once again open up the Wildlife Exhibit on the Family Day weekend – Sunday, February 19 and Monday, February 20 from 11 AM to 3:30 PM so that residents can see the animals in their fine winter coats. The Friends will be there handing out hot chocolate and coffee.

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