A partnership between a charity, a local business owner and the city will see an accessible, multi-sport outdoor recreation area constructed along Thompson Drive next year.
The 13,200-square-foot facility will include courts for basketball, tennis, ball hockey and pickleball as well as shaded bleachers and a quiet play area. it will have high-powered LED lights and high-contrast lines for those with visual impairments as well as wheelchair-accessible seating. Part of it can be flooded in the winter to create an outdoor skating area as well. It will be located at the West Dale Tot Lot on Thompson Drive near Giant Tiger and the School District of Mystery Lake office.
Most of the funding for the $700,000 project – half-a-million dollars – is coming from Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities’ Inclusive Play Project, with Thompson Canadian Tire owner Mike Howell and the city contributing $100,000 each.
“Both myself and my family are very, very big supporters and believers in Jumpstart Charities and when they approached me – obviously, it’s a pretty good financial contribution that my family is making – it didn’t even take us a day to say yes,” Howell told the Thompson Citizen. “This is exactly what I feel the city needs. For me and my family and certainly Jumpstart, we’re thrilled to be bringing this. I think it’ll be amazing.”
The city’s $100,000 contribution will go toward geotechnical surveys, site preparation and clearing, providing electrical services for the lighting and constructing an accessible pathway from the multi-use path.
“I support this all the way because we need recreation, things for kids to do, people to do, which sometimes right now we’re lacking,” said Coun. Earl Colbourne, one of seven councillors to vote in favour of entering an agreement with Jumpstart at the Nov. 30 council meeting. Coun. Andre Proulx was unable to participate remotely in the meeting due to technical issues and Coun, Jeff Fountain was the only vote in opposition, though he said he did so with regret, given the worthwhile nature of the project.
“We have crumbling infrastructure everywhere,” said Fountain. “Money is so tight. I don’t feel that this is a $100,000 project for the city. I expect this would run much much higher.”
Fountain also noted that existing city parks don’t even have public washrooms.
“I have received complaints from users of the tennis courts, the skatepark about us not being able to provide toilets,” he said. “We haven’t done our due diligence to make sure that those parks are maintained and fully useable when we have kids that are pooping and peeing in the park itself because we can’t provide the services they need.”
Coun. Les Ellsworth said he appreciated Fountains’ point about other infrastructure needing repairs but said this was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“We as a city are going to have a hard time ever coming up with money to build a park like we're suggesting tonight. We just don’t have that money. Is it going to come with some costs? There’s no doubt about it, but a lot less cost than if we had to build it ourselves.”
Construction of the facility is expected to start and finish in 2021, according to the city.