Outdoor hub designed for Dryden

DRYDEN – Paawidigong is an Anishinaabe word meaning “place of the rapids.” It’s also the name chosen for a park that could be sprouting up where there’s presently a parking lot near Dryden Fibre’s mill.

Winnipeg-based landscape architect Cheryl Dixon presented a conceptual design for the proposed “place to gather, connect and celebrate” during the Feb. 26 Dryden council meeting.

Described by Dixon as “a hub for the community to do things,” the park would feature a covered market, a stage and a playground among its key features.

When it’s built, the park will be at the corner of Earl Avenue and Duke Street on a patch of land abutting the Wabigoon River.

Dixon said she and colleagues at the Scatliff Miller Murray design firm acted on recommendations from Dryden residents who were consulted in a focus group, one-on-one interviews and other initiatives for “community-informed design directions.”

Residents expressed a desire for a safe and welcoming place that would celebrate Dryden’s identity and have easy-to-use amenities, she said.

The name was chosen in the spirit of truth and reconciliation with First Nations, she added.

The city must now decide how to move forward with the concept, Mayor Jack Harrison said after the council meeting.

A timeline for the project will be established once funding is lined up, he explained.

“We’ll move forward as it makes sense from our perspective,” he said.

Coun. Catherine Kiewning said she’s glad to see an Anishinaabe name affixed to the project.

“I think that it is really important as a part of the City of Dryden’s commitment to truth and reconciliation that we acknowledge the importance of First Nations in our history,” she said in an interview Friday.

Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source