Jenkins chooses to fund recreation as a preventative measure to health care
Canadian Tire Owner Malcolm Jenkins and the City of Prince Albert have partnered to give residents more reasons to be active.
On Friday morning, Jenkins and City representatives came together to announce three upcoming additions: A 7,000 square-foot expansion to the accessible playground, upgrades to the Lions spray park and a brand new batting cage in the Fieldhouse gym.
Jenkins announced the recreation investment on his 30th anniversary of owning the local Canadian Tire.
“When (my family) moved here 30 years ago, I said to people ‘What do you do on the weekend?’ and they said ‘Well, you can go to Melfort and swim in the pool,’” he said.
He knew he had to do something to make recreation more accessible within the city.
According to the City’s Director of Community Service, Jody Boulet, the cost of the three projects adds up to almost $1 million.
He said the batting cage is entirely funded by Jenkins, while the City will contribute to the accessible playground expansion and the water park.
The first phase of the Jumpstart accessible playground, which is located at the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse, was unveiled at the end of June last year.
The expansion will make the playground 17,000 square feet—what’s believed to be the largest playground in Canada.
“There’s a demand for this,” said Jenkins. “I measure it by the smiles on their faces and the number of kids that are there.”
The equipment allows children to play regardless of physical or intellectual disabilities. The new equipment will include swings, a spinner, a two-crab trap apparatus for climbing, global motion, a Netplex structure and a we-go-round.
Like the first phase, the apparatus will sit on a flat, rubberized material, allowing anyone with mobility equipment to easily move around the park.
Boulet said the City is hoping the expansion will be completed by the end of June, as well as the renovated Lions spray park.
Located next to the Bernice Sayese Centre in the West Flat, the park will have six new interactive elements. These include a water tower and a splash ball.
Boulet said the City did inventory of the playgrounds in 2019.
“The Lions Park was identified as a priority in 2020, so we have the new playground going there this year that is going to be funded through our capital budget,” he said.
“Through our conversations though with Malcolm, when he became aware that it also had a dated spray park on that site, he was willing to jump in and enhance that whole park.”
“We thought what a great opportunity to make it something really special,” said Jenkins.
He said the West Flat doesn’t have as many recreational facilities as other areas of Prince Albert. Last summer, he also funded a new skatepark located near Parkland Hall.
The batting cage, on the other hand, will allow local ball associations and cricket players to practice indoors.
The two-lane cage will be retractable and 30-feet wide by 75-feet long. It will be suspended from the ceiling to be raised and lowered for use.
It’s expected to be installed in the fall.
Jenkins said activity is a preventive measure to needing a lot of health care. While he has donated to the Victoria Hospital Foundation, he said he chooses to mostly fund reasons for people to get active.
“I play tennis in (the Fieldhouse). There’s pickle ball, there’s soccer in here of course, there’s a gymnasium, they play lacrosse in here. Do that rather than end up over there, 100 yards away there’s a hospital,” he said.
The City of Prince Albert has also secured funding from the federal and provincial governments for a multiplex facility.
Jenkins compared the recreation opportunities now compared to when he came to Prince Albert three decades ago. He hopes the investments lead youth to abandon the technology and do what kids are supposed to do—to play.
“Bit by bit, we’re filling in the blanks.”