Saskatchewan

Regina neighbourhood raised its own funds over 11-year span to refurbish run-down park

Varsity Park in the Arcola East neighbourhood may get some much needed upgrades after community members spent a decade planning and slowly raising the necessary funds. 

Now it's up to Regina city council to accept the $140K offer to redo park in Arcola East

Regina city council will debate accepting a donation of $140,000 to upgrade Varsity Park in the Arcola East neighbourhood. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

A Regina park may get some much needed upgrades after community members spent a decade planning and slowly raising the necessary funds. 

Varsity Park in the Arcola East Neighbourhood currently has a tennis court with grass poking up through the concrete, a basketball hoop on the tennis court's fence and a small wooden spray pad area. 

"It's kind of in a sort of a dilapidated state that really needs to be refurbished," Terry Gitner said of the tennis court. "There is a old wood spray park that exists there with, I'd say, a couple of showerheads on it … there's really not much more amenities in the park."

After about 10 years of planning and years of fundraising, the Arcola East Community Association, Hawrylak School Community Council (HSCC) and East Zone Board are proposing to refurbish the park. 

The proposed improvements include a new basketball court, accessible tables, and trees. (City of Regina)

If Regina's city council approves the proposal, the park could soon have a full sized basketball court, winter water service for a skating rink, more trees and four accessible picnic tables. The upgrades would cost $140,000, money donated by the association that it raised with programs and rentals. 

"Ultimately we're wanting to create a space for the community for years to come," said Gitner, past president and a member of the association.

About 10 years ago, the association wanted to refurbish the tennis courts but paused as the city was working through its recreation master plan. Then, in the fall of 2020, the HSCC began the process of adding amenities to the park.

Varsity Park is in the Arcola East neighbourhood. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

Through those discussions over the past eight months, two surveys were done with people in the area. Respondents brought up concerns about noise from teenagers, disruption to residents, with one saying "I don't want this to become a teen hangout." 

Gitner says they are conscious of those concerns and moved the court away from houses as a result.  

"When you develop areas for kids to hang out, you're always going to have people that raise those concerns," Gitner said. "But ultimately, we do need safe spaces for our kids to be able to congregate and just kind of be kids."  

Terry Gitner, former president of the Arcola East Community Association, says the tennis court is in terrible shape. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

Gitner says the next steps will be up to the city's contractors. He says he's hoping to have the ice skating rink ready for the winter. 

"It'll be heavily used by students at RWC Harlock and hopefully heavily used by other families that live in the community and around Regina," Git said. "Anybody that wants to come to the park is more than welcome."

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