A big splash: City, Malcolm Jenkins unveil new spray park in west flat

(From left to right) Ward 1 Coun. Charlene Miller, Karen Jenkins, Canadian Tire owner Malcolm Jenkins and Mayor Greg Dionne wait for The Big Splash to dump 40 gallons of water on them. (Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

City of Prince Albert representatives and Canadian Tire owner Malcolm Jenkins test ran a recently completed spray park in the west flat area for its unveiling on Wednesday.

Alfred’s Spray Park, located in Lions Park near the Bernice Sayese Centre, will soon be paired with playground equipment expected to be installed next month.

The project is one of three recreation boosts this year thanks to financial support from Jenkins, along with an indoor batting cage and an expansion to the accessible playground.

He contributed $100,000 of the $160,000 needed to upgrade the spray pad.

Jenkins was joined by his daughter, along with Mayor Greg Dionne and Ward 1 Coun. Charlene Miller, to test out one of the interactive features, the mega soaker, also known as The Big Splash.

The name doesn’t lie—you could barely see the group as a giant bucket of water above them tipped, dumping 40 gallons, or 151 litres.

“It’s a lovely sunny day, it’s 26 degrees. It’s perfect. Someone’s looking out for us because if we’d come today and it was six above and raining, wouldn’t that have been a lame thing?” said Jenkins with a laugh.

The Big Splash is one of several interactive features of the new spray pad in Lions Park. (Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

Since he became the owner of Canadian Tire three decades ago, he started setting aside money each year to see if he could fill the recreation gaps he noticed in Prince Albert.

“I’d say to people ‘What do you do on the weekend?’ and they’d said ‘Well, you can go to Melfort and swim in the pool.’ And that was about it—we didn’t have the Rawlinson Centre, we didn’t have the skateparks,” he said.

“We were great, but we were lacking a few pieces,” said Jenkins.

“Bit by bit, I think we’re doing a pretty good job, we’re catching up.”

His financial contribution allowed the city to expand the spray pad from two to six components. The base is covered with a red rubberized surface.

Aside from The Big Splash, the upgraded park also includes the Spin Spray 2, a wave-shaped feature where you can rotate an arching spray onto others, lily pads with low spurt nozzles and a water tower.

“It’s incredible for our kids down in this neighbourhood,” said Dawn Robins, the executive director of the West Flat Citizens Group.

“We have a daycare also that has 40 plus children, so they’re going to be able to enjoy it during the summer.”

Historically, she said, kids in the area didn’t have many opportunities to play. Back when she partnered with the City to build the previous spray pad, they gathered the money from grants.

“Our city’s growing, and the west flat is growing with the city.”

Dionne said increasing Prince Albert’s recreation opportunities improves both the physical and mental wellness of children.

“Look at how active they are. They’re running, they’re exercising, they’re going through the water,” he said. “Happy and busy kids don’t get in trouble, and I think that’s the main thing.”

Alfred’s Spray Park is located at 1301 13th Street West, open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. All spray parks in the city are free to attend, but residents are asked to follow all COVID-19 prevention measures such as physical distancing and regular hand washing.

Last summer, Jenkins also helped to fund Alfred’s Skatepark at Parkland Hall.

Like the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse, the project aims to honour Malcolm’s father. Malcolm said he’s simply following his dad’s perseverance and hard work to make the city a better place to grow up.

“He just worked his whole life, and with a smile on his face. I’m just doing the things he would have done if he had the opportunity to do them,” he said.

“There’s so many sayings, it’s better to give than to receive, things like that—and it really is.”