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Canada Day still a go at Kinsmen Park

Canada Day still a go at Kinsmen Park
The Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 2 colour party marches into Kinsmen Park during the 2016 Canada Day opening ceremonies. The Legion has organized Canada Day festivities in Prince Albert for more than 50 years. -- Herald file photo.

While the Prince Albert Multicultural Council (PAMC) considers moving their Canada Day celebrations, organizers from the Royal Canadian Legion say they’re committed to Kinsmen Park.

On Feb. 11, the PAMC announced at council that they would no longer take part in Canada Day at Kinsmen Park. Instead, they planned to return to the riverfront, where they held their own celebrations prior to 2013. However, Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 2, which has organized the annual Canada Day event in Kinsmen Park since 1966, said they have no plans to move the annual event.

“We want the public to know that the Kinsmen Park is still going to have a Canada Day celebration by the Royal Canadian Legion,” branch president Rick Hodgson said on Friday. “Whatever happens with (the PAMC) and the city is going to be separate. The big Canada Day celebration by the Legion is still a go. It’s booked and we’re in the process of (organizing).”

Hodgson and Royal Canadian Legion Canada Day Celebration Chair Brenda Cripps said they’ve already obtained a permit to hold the event at the park, although there may be a few other minor changes this year. They haven’t fully decided where to host the fireworks show, but other family activities such as the kids’ carnival and musical entertainment will still be held at the park until 6 p.m. as usual. The Legion also still has plans for a Canada Day parade down Central Avenue.

Both Hodgson and Cripps said they are unaware of any complaints from residents living near Kinsmen Park, and intend to host the celebration there as usual.

“No, not at all,” Hodgson said when asked if the Legion had received any sound or noise complaints, which the PAMC cited as one of the reasons for relocating to the riverbank. “Nothing has been sent to us. It’s news to me.”

“Why, are there supposed to be complaints?” Cripps added. “This is something new to me.”

For decades, the Legion organized the Canada Day celebrations on their own to provide an event for families who couldn’t afford to leave town for the holiday. When the PAMC started their own ceremony down by the riverbank, they wouldn’t begin until after the Legion event ended at 6 p.m.

“We’d march off the colours, come down to the riverbank, march on the colours, do their opening ceremonies and away we went,” Cripps remembered.

That changed six years ago when the city asked the Legion if the PAMC could also have their event at Kinsmen Park due to concerns about the riverbank’s stability. She said the Legion has no problem with other organizations organizing events on Canada Day. She just hopes the city won’t provide permits for two events to run at the same time.

“We’re not a big enough city to have two or three different organizations (hosting events,)” Cripps said.

“The city hasn’t, and I hope they don’t, approve anything on Canada Day while the Legion is hosting their Canada Day,” Hodgeson added. “There should only be one celebration.”

Hodgeson said they plan to meet with city council members to clear up any concerns before July 1.

The PAMC first brought their plans to Prince Albert city council during an executive committee meeting on Monday. PAMC acting executive director Michelle Hassler said they had received too many complaints, especially about safety regarding the fireworks. She told council they were thinking of moving their event to Dave Steuart Park, located just east of the Prince Albert Historical Museum.

“Kinsmen Park has offered a great space for the celebration, but for the last couple of years the PAMC has also received personal messages of concern about fireworks in the park, and some issues from the residents nearby,” Hassler said during the meeting. “A lot (of people) have expressed suggestions about (returning to) the riverbank Canada Day celebration again, and PAMC board and staff are highly considering a return.”

According to Community Services Director Jody Boulet, the plan is still “very preliminary.”

Mayor Greg Dionne indicated afterwards that he was open to having a Canada Day celebration on the riverfront, but not without consulting the Royal Canadian Legion first. He also said the city has not received any complaints about the festivities from residents living near Kinsmen Park.