The City of Prince Albert unveiled a new park expansion adjacent to Westview Public School on Tuesday: The James Isbister Park – Alfred’s Basketball and Skateboard Playground located on Macarthur Drive, West Flat.
The $300,000 expansion was made possible through partnering with the Malcolm Jenkins Family Foundation, which contributed $200,000. The City of Prince Albert contributed $100,000.
“Well build it and they will come,” Malcolm Jenkins said during the opening. “I guess it’s somebody building it and it’s kind of pointless until you see somebody on it. Then you realize it was a good idea, but as it goes you don’t realize the dream until it’s come to fruition. It’s terrific.”
The event was held during in conjunction with the Westview School Meet the Teacher/Back to School BBQ on Tuesday evening, so the new playground has already seen a lot of use.
“We wanted to get it open so kids could use it this fall,” Jenkins said. “We didn’t want to wait until next spring, (and) the same with the basketball court. You can see the kids loving that and it will be lit 24/7. We have the lighting pylons going in probably six to eight weeks.”
Jenkins hopes the new attraction will become a community hub in the West Flat neighbourhood. He explained that a project like this balances out with amenities on the other side of Prince Albert.
“I think this is all part of a great thing for this area,” he added. “It was needed because it is sort of lopsided the allocation of fun for the kids. I think we have got, thanks to the help of the Parks Department, a bit of a better balance.”
Tim Yeaman, Parks and Open Spaces Manager for the City of Prince Albert, said the Community Services department are a great group to work with and they try to create community cohesion that allows the community to have a safe place to play, regardless of age.
“When we take a look at these type of projects, we ask ourselves when we are planning them, ‘is what is the best project and what’s the best use of the space,’” Yeaman said.
New park features include The Musco Mini-Pitch 100’ X 50’ with benches, lockable storage, galvanized steel surrounding structure, and beverage holders.
“We took a risk by taking this type of system, installing it here, and putting skateboard park equipment inside of it because we didn’t really know what the reaction was going to be,” Yeaman said.
“Sometimes you have to take those risks and it has been hugely successful. We are proud of that.”
Six new basketball poles, backboards, hoops and nets have been installed, allowing for increased pick-up games and programming opportunities for the space.
Yeaman explained that they worked with the community and particularly Westview and they recognized that the existing playground was already great and an existing spray park.
“So to add something different such as a skateboard park and some additional basketball hoops and you can see by tonight how many kids are actually utilizing them. I would like to see this eventually turn over into a opportunity to host basketball tournaments throughout the city if we have enough basketball courts and it would be great to see something like that come to life,” Yeaman said.
The skate park and Musco Mini Pitch will be permanent installations remaining in place year-round. New Lighting is in the process of being installed. (Four lights to the Basketball Court and another two lights to the Skate Park). All Lighting will be directional and diffuse downwards to reduce any concerns with light reflecting into homes.
The project was not without challenges and the department set an optimistic goal to open by Canada Day long weekend.
“Of course that didn’t happen because we did run into a few complications but the finished product is what we really care about and making sure that the kids have a great place, the community has a great place to gather,” Yeaman said.
The Musco Mini Pitch skateboard park is unique in Canada according to Yeaman.
“We wanted to look and find something different for the City of Prince Albert and the great thing with this Musco Mini Pitch is because we have enclosed the skate park, you are actually able to look through the skate park itself so it actually does add a level of security as well,” he said.
He explained that the security comes from the park being enclosed so when kids are playing they will be easy to locate.
“If people want to drive by and just check on their kids in the community as well they are able to do that,” Yeaman said.
The basketball courts are replacing what used to be a three quarters sized court with four basketball hoops
“So we wanted to finish this and make a bigger court,” Yeaman said. “Next year we will line the court, so that’s our plan … but as Malcolm indicated as well, there will be lighting that will be installed up here and that will take place, hopefully, into the month of October.”
James Isbister has been highlighted in the State of the Playgrounds report update in 2021 as a playground/park requiring immediate updating and refurbishment.
Jenkins explained that he does what he does because of the community and also Canadian Tire’s support in the community.
“People keep shopping at Canadian Tire and we said early on if you shop at Canadian Tire great things will happen and we had to put our money where our mouth was and we were happy to do that for 32 years. We do projects and they’re great and we love it and it’s such fun to do it and it’s great to see kids put a smile on their face,” Jenkins said.
“I’m getting up there. I don’t have long to go, so I would sooner not be the richest guy in the graveyard.”