Council considers recommended upgrades to Great Chief Park

City council was presented with a report detailing a range of upgrades and reinvestments to Great Chief Park during this week’s meeting.

“We went through a detailed process to make sure all the stakeholders were fully engaged,” said Randy Heaps of ISL Engineering and Land Services. The company was enlisted by the City’s Recreation Parks and Culture department to make sure the park’s aging infrastructure and facility upgrades would be completed in a strategic manner.

“We went back and forth with them as to what the priorities would be and that was a great process that allowed all the groups to sit down and work together.”

The last public consultation for the Great Chief Park Enhancement Concept Plan & Outdoor Speed Skating Oval Relocation was held last November. It was recommended that council consider the report and table it until the Aug. 20 meeting to allow for more public consultation.

Great Chief Park was established as a park site in 1964, and it’s been described as the City’s ‘premier outdoor, multi-sport field facility’.

As to the enhancement project, it’s been broken down primarily into four areas – football/soccer/speedskating; baseball; fastball and general site improvements.

Examples of project elements that surfaced during discussions with stakeholders included things like a new sportsfield clubhouse, expanding the existing clubhouse, sound system upgrades, parking lot improvements, landscaping, upgrades to the sod outfield, addition of artificial turf, lighting improvements, a new maintenance building, a pressbox/spotters booth, concrete plazas and walking routes.

The report also includes a recommendation for development of the speed skating oval within the enhancements to Great Chief Park. The oval is currently located in Rotary Recreation Park near the Golden Circle. To accommodate the oval, the soccer football field would need to be shifted slightly to the south.

Heaps said that the series of upgrades will help the City make even more use of the facility as “it’s in such high demand not just for games, but for practices as well.

“This is a showcase facility. Everybody recognizes that, particularly those visitors that have the opportunity to come and participate in sports there. The addition of speed skating and the maintenance of cross-country skiing really make this a four-season facility.

“We are looking to raise the bar, and that’s the whole idea in terms of recreational and cultural experience for the users.”

Great Chief Park is also a popular spot for community festivals and charity events. Council was told that “Since the site is connected into the Waskasoo Park system, many events use the park as the central location with additional activities in other areas.”

The total estimated capital cost of the recommended project is $8.6 million, which includes a 15% contingency.

“It’s important to remember that this is a concept plan,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling, indicating that additional details and finalizations will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead. “But it’s obviously sparked a lot of potential in everyone’s thinking.

“The intent is that this report will be tabled until Aug. 20 to allow time for this to percolate into the community.”