Feds reject bid for grant to revitalize Centennial Park

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Centennial Park upgrades will carry on, but without a half-million-dollar grant from the federal government.

Earlier this month, the Town of Olds learned that Western Diversification Canada had rejected its application to the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, chief operating officer Doug Wagstaff told the policies and priorities committee on Dec. 21.

The $150-million program is intended to invest in community infrastructure over two years to celebrate the country’s 150th anniversary.

Revitalizing the park would take two phases, at $250,000 each. The town was hoping to receive matching grant money for a total project valuation of just over $1 million.

Plans will now be scaled back.

Councillors on the committee want the focus to be making Centennial Park a place for people to gather.

“We are so fortunate to have such a massive space in the centre of our community, with open spaces where people can pick up a football or have an impromptu soccer game or a church service on Sunday or a band concert,” said Coun. Mary Jane Harper.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to see so much stuff put into our park … that it prohibits the large gathering of people when they see fit.”

Coun. Harvey Walsh added that fixtures like washrooms, tables and places to sit should be the highest priority.

“I think we focus on people first, why they go there. They need places to sit, places to rest,” said Walsh.

Original plans included many items.

Some included: washrooms, widening the pathways, flagpoles, lights, horseshoe pits, silhouettes, landscaping and low walls that could be used for “legacy pieces” — such as commemorating local athletes.

There were also plans to build an amphitheatre and to extend 51 Avenue down to 54 Street, which could have been used for school graduation ceremonies.

jho@olds.greatwest.ca

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