Council voted in favour of a recommendation to replace the Midtown playground and spray park at Monday’s Executive Committee meeting, with the motion to be voted on at an upcoming City Council meeting for final approval.
“This is very exciting, and it’s not only exciting for Midtown, it’s exciting for our entire city,” said Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick. “It’s investing in the communities and in the community clubs. Without their volunteerism, we wouldn’t be able to operate any of this stuff and have this great stuff that we have in the city.”
In 2022, the City of Prince Albert Parks Manager Tim Yeaman presented the State of the Playgrounds report to Council, wherein the Midtown Community Centre was identified as having a playground and spray park that is limited in amenities and in deteriorating condition.
During the 2023 budget process, the Community Services Department brought forward two recommendations for Council’s consideration to make the replacement project a reality.
Administration asked that the current source of funding be increased by an additional $20,000, bringing the total Capital playground investment to $150,000. This would provide them the opportunity to continue with creating a single new play structure, along with lighting improvements, furniture, and a security camera if required.
Community Services also requested that a new Capital investment from the City into spray pad and paddling pool replacement of $200,000 be considered, with a commitment from the Department to seek out matching dollars through partnerships, grant dollars and other funding opportunities.
Following Council’s support of the recommended playground replacement, a partnership was achieved with Malcolm Jenkins for the development and construction of the Midtown Community Centre Spray and Play Park.
“This is a big positive, we’ve had lots of great partnership with Malcolm over the last few years,” Yeaman said. “We’re happy to partner with him again.”
According to Yeaman, Jenkins has committed $250,000 with a few conditions, including that the City contribute matching funds.
Per a funding breakdown outlined on the Midtown Community Centre Playground and Spray Park Replacement report, a total of $650,000 is required for the project. $150,000 is to be funded from the 2023 playground investment and the remaining $250,000 in matching contributions is to be funded from The Future Infrastructure Reserve, pending Council’s approval.
“I know there’s a price tag to it, but credit goes to Malcolm Jenkins,” said Coun. Tony Head. “He’s done a lot of partnerships with the City and it’s great to see those partnerships come to fruition and our parks improve.”
The Midtown playground and spray park replacement project was proposed to begin in 2023, but the wait time to manufacture the equipment needed has increased due to changes within the playground development industry over the last several years, according to Yeaman.
He explained that after reaching out to other municipalities across Saskatchewan and learning of their experience with playground suppliers, the City could see up to an eight-month delay in receiving the equipment. In some extreme cases, it could be up to a year.
“In order for us to build this playground, we wouldn’t be looking at it until 2024,” said Yeaman. “It’s a disappointment, but also an understanding within what we can control. The industry, we have no control over what’s taking place out there today.”
Head said it’s unfortunate to see these massive delays, not only with playgrounds but also ordering vehicles and equipment.
“It seems to be the way of the world today,” said Head.
With Council’s approval, Administration will proceed with providing a deposit in the amount of $395,570 plus tax to secure the Playground and Spray Park equipment components and blue rubber surfacing product. The equipment will be stored over winter once received, with the estimated starting date of the project to begin in spring of 2024.