Souris taps “wisdom of crowds” for rebuilding flood-damaged park

Souris residents encouraged to post their own ideas online as town 
looks to repair Victoria Park after last year's deluge

After last year’s flood turned the town of Souris’s iconic park into a sea of mud, local officials have been left with an extensive cleanup and repair job.

Victoria Park, famous for its high ravines, trees, two bridges, peacocks and legions of resident Canada geese, saw many of its trees and most of its grass cover swept away by the swollen river and Plum Creek.

Town officials have turned to crowdsourcing, a novel Internet-based brainstorming method to solicit public input in devising a new 30-year plan for the park, donated to the town by one of its earliest settlers in 1897.

“We’re trying to see how we can make it better economically for the future,” said Sven Kreusch, the town’s economic development officer and emergency co-ordinator.

Via the website www.crowdbrite.com, residents are invited to log in with a user name, then participate in the Victoria Park visioning, restoration, and enhancement project via an interactive park planning canvas.

Through the website, they can scroll around and review the project, comment on ideas, and add their own input via electronic post-it notes attached to a map of the site.

All the suggestions will be incorporated into a single plan, which will then be costed out and presented to the public before the plan is finalized.

Suggestions so far include the addition of zip lines, an interpretive trail connecting the park to other attractions, a well-lit dog park, a gazebo and more.

“We’ve had everything from crazy to normal,” said Kreusch, adding that the goal of the crowdsourcing model is to broaden the scope of public input, instead of simply relying on assumptions about what the public might want.

The Souris Swinging Bridge, also a casualty of the flood, is to be rebuilt later this fall, he added. The campground and swimming pool in Victoria Park will be reopened later this summer, but for the most part, the park is off limits until the reconstruction work can be finished, he added.

To see the crowdsourcing plan in action, go to http://www.crowdbrite.com/storms/sort/636/Vision_Plan_Souris.

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