Prince Albert city council voted to forward the new Little Red River Park Master Plan to the next city council meeting on Monday, but cautioned residents they likely won’t implement all the recommendations.
The 10-year, $13.4-million plan passed unanimously at Monday’s executive committee meeting. It will now head to the next regular council meeting for a final vote.
Mayor Greg Dionne said the master plan is a nice wish list, but without grants or funding partnerships, they won’t move forward with many of the big-ticket items.
“Will it ever happen? I don’t think so with that price tag, but I do think, with some of the things, we’ll progress,” Dionne said following the meeting. “Our priorities will be to move the park forward, but it won’t be at a fast pace.”
“It’s not a dream, it’s a wish list,” he added. “This is what it could look like. Well, then you downsize it to meet your budget.
Most city coucillors echoed those sentiments during a short 11-minute question and answer session following a five-minute presentation from Parks Manager Tim Yeaman.
Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodick, made the motion to accept the master plan said he was excited by many things included in the report, but the price tag wasn’t one of them.
“The $13-million to do everything in this report is a little overwhelming,” he said. “Maybe that’s where our (administration) can start looking and searching and writing grant applications to get some of this stuff completed, (or) maybe partnering with our Indigenous community as well.”
Ogrodnick added that he appreciated the Parks Department’s commitment to consulting with Indigenous elders and creating a plan that tells the true story about Prince Albert.
While council likely won’t sign on the full $13-million price tag, the true cost of making the first few improvements still isn’t known.
Yeaman said they’re focusing on the repair and maintenance problems in the park. Once they have more direction from council and contributions from the community, they’ll bring a budget request forward in the fall.
“Even though the master plan is done, that doesn’t mean the priorities laid out in here have to be the priorities that we necessarily follow,” he said during the meeting. “There will be some budget ask. I just don’t know what that would look like at this point.”
Yeaman said that the public was very engaged in the Little Red consultation process. However, he asked for patience as council and city administrators make changes.
“The success of realizing this master plan will not be whether everything presented in the strategic actions is completed within the 10-year timeframe,” he said. “Instead, it will be seen in the quality of the actions that are taken. If they stand up to the foundations of this plan, then Little Red River Park will continue to be a success.”
The Little Red River Master Plan includes recommendations in more than a dozen areas, including park accessibility, trail and hill maintenance, event planning, marketing and environmental sustainability. The plan includes five two-year phases with specific goals laid out of each phase.
Among the many options are plans to establish a cultural site near the remains of an abandoned Dakota village, a pilot program for low impact camping, an adventure activity area that could include things like rope climbing walls or a zip line, and a new environmental education centre. The plan also includes details for establishing another transit line the would run from downtown Prince Albert out to Hazeldell, Nordale, Little Red and the Prince Albert Aiport.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for July 27.