City welcomes fitness enthusiasts back to re-opened outdoor gym

After an aborted launch, the Party City Outdoor Gym is officially open.

City representatives were on hand as the gym welcomed back outdoor fitness lovers for the first time since the start of summer. Work crews had to replace a special type of artificial turf used to protect users who fall down on the course.

City of Prince Albert Parks Manager Tim Yeaman said they’re just happy to have the facility open, and confident the new upgrades will improve the user experience.

“I think the public will enjoy it much more,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s like wearing brand new pair of shoes when you walk on it. Lots of sponginess.”

Workers completed the 7.000 square foot outdoor facility roughly two years ago, but the official opening wasn’t held until July 2022. The park was open for just 25 days before, Prince Albert was hit with a torrential downpour that caused rainwater to pool under the synthetic turf and lift the surface.

Yeaman said the contractor who installed the original surface was great to work with and helped find a replacement. However, they had difficulty hiring enough labourers to complete the project, which delayed the reopening until September 27.

Yeaman said it was disappointing to have to delay the reopening, but added that it was in everyone’s best interest.

“We just felt it was best to move forward in a safe manner, making sure that we’re protecting the public, not bringing them into a situation where they can hurt themselves,” he said. “I think that was the right decision, even though it’s taken us until the end of September to get this completed.”

Yeaman thanked Prince Albert businessman Malcolm Jenkins for his financial contribution that made building the outdoor gym possible.

Jenkins was also on hand Tuesday, and said he was relieved to see the park available for use.

“It took a while to get the labour to do it. We finally got that and bang, it was done in five days,” Jenkins said. “(It was) last week when we finished it, so now it’s open and up for business. We just called a bit of a press conference today so we could get the word out to the community and say, ‘hey, come on down’.”

Jenkins said the goal is to turn the area around the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse into an outdoor fitness campus. The Party City Outdoor Gym is just one of several facilities in the area designed to get residents moving instead of sitting at home.

“Bit by bit we’re filling in the spots,” he said. “I came here 32 years ago. We were working on a store and I said, ‘we’ll just take a break’ and then I said, ‘what do you do on a weekend for a break’. Someone said, ‘well, you can go to Melfort and swim in the pool’ and that line has stayed with me ever since. It was basically ‘go jump in the river’. There wasn’t a whole lot of stuff … but bit by bit we’ve added things.”

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