Prince Albert needs plan to keep improving on beautification efforts says parks manager

Prince Albert City Hall -- Herald file photo.

Prince Albert’s parks manager says the City needs to put more resources into beautification projects if it wants to keep improving its main thoroughfares.

Parks manager Tim Yeaman said efforts to cleanup and beautify areas like Second Avenue have been successful, but council needs to invest more if they want even better results.

“Within the scope of what we’re being asked to do yearly (and) daily, we’re limited in how much we can provide,” Yeaman told council during Monday’s executive committee meeting. “I want to make sure we do it well. I want to make sure we represent the City well, and I’ll do whatever it takes, but I also need to make sure that we ask for what’s required.”

That’s going to mean an increased funding request when 2022 budget deliberations begin. Yeaman said they haven’t decided on how much of an increase they’ll ask for since they’re still working on logistics. The parks department has already committed $30,000 of the $75,000 beautification budget.

“It’s not as easy as just putting a planter out on a median and expecting that it’s going to be okay,” Yeaman said. “They require daily, weekly, attention. I said to council when I first started here, ‘if we’re not going to do it well, we shouldn’t be doing it,’ and I struggle with that every year. I also recognize though when we need help, we should be asking for help.”

Mayor Greg Dionne said there’s no doubt the City needs to commit more money if it wants to keep seeing improvements. The biggest item on the wish list is a horticulturalist to head up a team that primarily focuses on landscaping.

“If you’re going to do any project, you’ve got to have an expert,” Dionne said during an interview on Tuesday. “I agree with him (Yeaman). If we’re going to go into plans, we’ve got to work with a horticulturalist.”

Community Services Advisory Committee member Dennis Ogrodnick also said Prince Albert needs a horticulture department if residents want to continue seeing improvements. He pointed out that other cities had similar departments, which helped attract employees who were passionate about beautification, and trained to do it properly.

“If we want to have beautification, we need to have expertise and staff who can do that, exactly as he (Yeaman) said,” Ogrodnick told council.

Yeaman said crews were able to make a number of improvements in 2020, primarily in the Second Avenue corridor between 17th Street and 22nd Street West. Parks department officials were able to bring many of the vacant lots into compliance, and began communicating with business owners about the importance of grass cutting, weed control and snow removal.

Forestry crews worked to clear dead and diseased trees on both sides of Second Avenue, traffic lights were repainted, and boulevards were swept more than once a year.

Yeaman said 2020 was a year they built on improvements made in 2019, but if the council wants to do that again, it’s going to take more resources.

So far in 2021 they’ve continued to focus on the Second Avenue corridor. Major projects include cleaning and repairing the wrought iron fence that exists along Second Avenue between 18th Street and 22nd Street West. Crews have also focused on finding chemical free solutions for controlling weeds on medians, sidewalks and entry ways to the City and downtown core.

Yeaman also said the City needs some kind of beautification plan going forward. That doesn’t mean another master plan, but it does mean more formal discussions about landscaping, signage and public art.

“This year has been a very overwhelming year for me as far as beautification goes, trying to come up with those ideas … and that’s why I wanted to be honest with council,” Yeaman said. “I enjoy working on the beautification, but it’s a (big) topic, and a much bigger though process needs to go into it.”