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On the move?

On the move?
A pair of dancers celebrate Canada Day in front of the main stage at Kinsmen Park in this file photo from July 1, 2016. -- Herald file photo.

The Prince Albert Multicultural Council (PAMC) has hosted Canada Day celebrations in Kinsmen Park since 2013, but that could change this year.

The group is in discussions with the city’s Community Services Department to move the celebrations back to the banks of the North Saskatchewan River.

PAMC acting executive director Michelle Hassler said the park has been a fantastic location over the years, but they’ve decided it may be best to move after receiving some complaints from nearby residents.

“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 explained during a presentation to Prince Albert city council on Monday. “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.”

The news came as a bit of a surprise to some. Mayor Greg Dionne said that’s the first he’s heard regarding Canada Day complaints. He added that most people he talks to are happy to have the celebrations nearby. However, he’s also not opposed to moving the annual event back to the waterfront, as long as other organizations involved in the Canada Day celebration, like the Royal Canadian Legion, aren’t left in the cold.

“I think that’s a great use of our river,” Dionne said following Monday’s meeting. “I’m one of the ones who believe our river is underused. We should be using it more. My concern is that we’re still cohesive with the legion.”

There are some concerns about whether the new location would be spacious enough to host the event.

Hassler said they’re tentatively planning on using Dave Steuart Park, located east of the Prince Albert Historical Museum, and although they haven’t had a thorough examination of the site, she’s not concerned about running out of space.

“The riverbank is just a different layout from the Kinsmen Park, with the park being kind of wide and rectangular and the riverbank is a little bit narrower,” she said. “There might be a different setup and layout.”

Part of that different layout could mean inviting more food trucks and fewer food booths or tents. However, Hassler said nothing is guaranteed until they take a closer look at the map and take a walk down by the riverfront to gauge just how much space they have to work with.

“There will be a lot of sight viewings in the next few days, as long as it gets warmer,” she chuckled.

Most city councillors were supportive of the move, provided there is enough room. Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick was the most enthusiastic. He said it’s a natural location for Prince Albert residents to celebrate their shared heritage.

“That’s where Prince Albert began. Kistahpinanihk. On the riverbank,” he said during the meeting. “That was the gathering place, and so I see that as being a huge advantage in continuing the reconciliation process on Canada Day. Canada Day is not a celebration for everyone in this country, unfortunately, but by moving this back to the riverbank, it could become a celebration of the gathering of peoples.”

Community Services Director Jody Boulet said the only major concern about the change is the cost. He’s planning on reviewing the proposal and bringing a report on the financial implications back to council.

“This is very preliminary,” Boulet said on Monday. “We want to make sure that what they have planned, we can also accommodate within our budget.”