Federal funding boost for Waskesiu recreation amenities

Submitted photo Site preparation for the lawn bowling and beach volleyball court at Waskesiu.

Three Waskesiu townsite recreation projects will get a big boost thanks to $56,022 in funding from the Government of Canada through PrairiesCan

The Waskesiu Foundation and the Waskesiu Recreation Association announced the funding agreement on Apr. 21. The projects included refurbishment of the lawn bowling green, construction of a new beach volleyball court, and the installation of memorial benches on the recreation area grounds.

Jim Kerby a director with Waskesiu Recreation Association, said the projects are a continuation of work that started in 2016 with the construction of a new mini golf. Little Al’s Mini Golf opened in July of 2018.

“It’s all part of a master plan for the area,” Kerby explained. “We think that we accomplished a lot of great things and this is just a continuation of that.”

Kerby said the goal over the last few years was to make recreation accessible for all ages and families. These projects will help do that, while also revitalizing the area.

“Lawn bowling is being brought back after sort of falling off over the last number of years,” he explained. “The facility was in bad shape, so that has been revitalized. We have got beach volleyball, which tends to be for younger people, but I think that is a great addition and we will have these memorial benches around the recreation area that will be really good for families and people just needing a place to rest.”

The Association welcomed news of federal funding for the project.

“It is going to allow us, I think, to springboard to finish the other work that we are hoping to do in order to complete the master plan,” Kerby said. “It was like a gift from heaven for sure.”

Waskesiu Recreation Association president Gary Bender said recreation is already a major part of Waskesiu, and these three projects ensure it will only get better.

“Recreation is one of the cornerstones of the Waskesiu experience,” Bender said in a media release. “We’re so excited to launch these projects in our community for the benefit of residents and visitors of all ages. It’s a wonderful opportunity for families, friends, and neighbours to connect and have fun while enjoying the great outdoors.

“Waskesiu is a special place and we’re so grateful for this federal funding support that will improve the Waskesiu experience now, and for generations to come.”

Federal funding for this initiative is provided through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF), which is administered in Saskatchewan by PrairiesCan.

“Our government is working together with communities across Canada to revitalize public gathering spaces, benefitting the wellbeing of local residents,” Daniel Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan said.

“This support for Waskesiu, through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund, will help refresh and expand public areas providing residents with opportunities for active, healthy living, while attracting visitors to this incredible national park community.”

Thanks to Parks Canada, the project site was prepped with a cap and trio of swales to improve drainage. Refurbishment of the lawn bowling green involved preparing the playing surface with a mixture of sand and peat, installing irrigation, and seeding the grass – then taking great care to develop and manage the new turf.

Chain link fencing protects the area, which contains four lawn bowling rinks. An official grand opening celebration is planned for June 30, 2022, which will include a lawn bowling demonstration and the opportunity for the public to participate at no cost.

The lawn bowling green will be dedicated in honour of the famous designer of the Waskesiu Golf Course, Stanley Thompson, whose mastery of turf management was called upon in 1948 when the lawn bowling green was first constructed in Waskesiu.

The area adjacent to the refurbished lawn bowling green now hosts a newly constructed beach volleyball court. The sheltered playing area is surrounded by towering spruce trees. It includes a structure below ground which holds the court’s sand in place – over which special fabric and tile were installed to allow for proper drainage and weed control. The volleyball poles and net are removable and can be stored out of the elements during the winter months.

The new beach volleyball court is scheduled to open this spring on the May long weekend.

In addition, a total of 17 memorial benches are planned for installation on the recreation area grounds this summer. The new maintenance-free steel benches will include an engraved memorial plaque, honouring friends and loved ones. 

“Waskesiu is a place families come to time and time again. Often, these families have been returning for decades and want a way to remember their loved ones – a designated place to rest, reflect, or take in the sights and sounds around them,” Derwin Arnstead, chair of the Waskesiu Foundation said.

These benches are in high demand – a similar memorial bench program has been over-subscribed, and participation capped for years, resulting in a waiting list. Those on the waiting list will be contacted about this opportunity. 

“These new memorial benches will help families fulfil their wishes to honour their loved ones in the same place where they created so many happy memories,” Arnstead added.

The Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) helps communities rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund assists non-profit organizations, municipalities, community groups, and Indigenous communities across Canada to build and improve community infrastructure projects. The CCRF is a two-year, $500 million national infrastructure program to revitalize communities across Canada.

“We are very excited that this is part of the continuation of improving the recreation area for Waskesiu,” Kerby said. “We have got more plans for the future but we think we are well on our way. I just wanted to again thank the PrairesCan, Federal Government for this kind of support because it has made a big difference for us.”

The Waskesiu Foundation is a registered charity supporting recreational, social, cultural, and environmental activities that enhance the Waskesiu experience. The Waskesiu Recreation Association is a non-profit organization responsible for maintaining and improving many of Waskesiu’s recreation facilities and activities, and also leads, or assists with, several of the prominent events that make Waskesiu a popular destination for so many.