Sunset Lake Park will see a major upgrade starting next year, with plans for a new spray park, an amphitheatre and an improved gazebo.
Wembley council voted last week to apply for $180,206 in provincial funding under the new municipal stimulus program to support the project.
“We’re certainly pleased we’re able to upgrade the park, and it will definitely be well used,” said mayor Chris Turnmire.
“A spray park will be a welcome addition to the park for kids in the summer.”
There is already a spray park at Sunset Lake Park, but he said it hasn’t been operational for approximately two years and parts of it can no longer function.
As Aquatera’s Water to Wembley line is completed there are no more concerns about the town’s water supply, and he said this is an opportune time to replace the spray park.
Hythe is building a spray park on the site of its former pool, but Turnmire said there is also an appetite for a park in Wembley.
“The park we had before was well used during the summer, and we’ve certainly heard that is an item the residents want to see,” he said.
“If you have a spray park and the playgrounds there and you add an amphitheatre, Sunset Lake Park becomes a good meeting place for families throughout the summer.”
The amphitheatre will be completely new and will be ideal for hosting outdoor events, he said.
The idea was proposed by Wembley parks and recreation and based on community feedback, Turnmire said.
Meanwhile, the gazebo is aging and has suffered vandalism over the years. Turnmire said an upgrade will complement the spray park with a change room and renovated washroom.
The gazebo will also have an eating place, possibly with a fireplace or wood stove, he added.
Noreen Zhang, Wembley chief administrative officer, said the spray park will cost an estimated $200,000 and the gazebo upgrade will cost approximately $100,000.
The amphitheatre is on council’s “wish list” but Zhang said administration hadn’t recommended it, and she provided no cost estimate for it.
The municipal stimulus program is intended to create local jobs and help communities move toward economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.
The Alberta government is providing $500 million to municipalities across the province under the program.
Of that, $180,206 will go to Wembley, $2.7 million to the County of Grande Prairie, $311,437 to Sexsmith, $293,012 to Beaverlodge and $98,000 to Hythe.
Turnmire said the town can draw on Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) fund for the rest of the costs.
Projects aren’t eligible for municipal stimulus funding if they’ve already been approved for MSI, but Zhang said the Sunset Lake Park upgrade hasn’t yet received any MSI funding.
Additionally, Turnmire said over the past year the town has reached out to different companies and they have made donations toward a new spray park.
The upgrades may create some local employment, but he said first the town will seek quotes from different companies.
Since the application has to be in by Oct. 1, Turnmire said the 2020 construction season will likely end before the project is approved and work couldn’t begin until 2021.
Still, Turnmire said it would be great if the upgrade could be completed by the end of the summer of 2021.
Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News