By Lethbridge Herald on October 13, 2023.
Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – email@example.com
The Galt Gardens Inclusive and Accessible Play Space is officially open to the public after a ribbon cutting ceremony was staged Wednesday morning.
Located immediately adjacent to the Rotary Centennial Fountain in the southeast corner of the four-hectare park, the new space features inclusive and accessible play equipment, rubber surfacing, a plaza space and park furniture.
Urban revitalization manager for the City of Lethbridge, Crystal Scheit spoke to media and said this project came to fruition after it was identified as a key feature that was lacking in the downtown area.
“With that, we saw an opportunity when the federal government was offering a grant to be able to create a space within the park that would activate and bring in that piece of recreational equipment,” said Scheit.
She said the City is looking at creating spaces that are accessible for all users, of all ages and capacities.
“We have a lot of elements around the park that are sensory elements with the turf and the sensory equipment over on the north side of the park. As well we’ve got accessible seating so that people can come in and activate the space and sit and relax, or they can access any of the equipment that’s in here that has been made accessible for all users,” said Scheit.
The project was made possible thanks in part to federal funding through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF), which is administered in Alberta by PrairiesCan. Through the CCRF in 2022, the City of Lethbridge was successful in securing $375,000 – which represents more than 50 per cent of the $662,000 total project cost.
The CCRF is a two-year $500-million national infrastructure program designed to support communities across the country with projects that revitalize downtown cores and main streets, reinvent outdoor spaces, create green infrastructure, and address accessibility of community space.
The remaining funding of $287,000 comes from a previously-approved budget in Public Realm Enhancements for $152,000, plus $125,000 approved by Lethbridge City Council in the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program, as well as $10,000 from the Kal Tire Replay Fund.
Councillor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel told media the playground is a key piece to revitalizing the downtown core as the park fills a gap in play spaces.
“It opens up that opportunity and nicely complements the Rotary spray park that we have in this park, and we’ll also be able to be use it year-round, so we’ll be able to see daily activity going on in this park,” said Schmidt-Rempel.
She said the other key aspect of opening up the playground is the fact that it provides opportunities for positive activities and positive engagement within the downtown core, improving the space.
“Our downtown core is a point of pride in our community and we want to make sure that we’re taking pride in our community, and we want to encourage people to come down, explore what we’ve got going on in downtown,” said Schmidt-Rempel.
Many residents have expressed their concerns about having children in Galt Gardens due to security issues but Sergeant of the downtown policing unit with LPS, Ryan Darroch said he brings his own kids to the area.
“I brought my own kids here, I brought my own kids to the fountain and anytime there’s a positive event within our downtown core, especially in Galt Gardens, it pushes (out) any negative use,” said Darroch.
Darroch said he is excited to see the area being used, especially next summer in conjunction with the Rotary fountain and how they work together.
Darroch said residents can rest assured the playground will be monitored as LPS patrols the area on a regular basis.
The officer says the park will be treated like any other area of downtown with proactive patrols and responses to calls for service.