Optimist Hill

  • City:

    Saskatoon, SK

  • Published:

    July 31, 2017

  • Nominated By:

    Mandy Pravda

Tell us about your Community’s passion and spirit for sport, recreation and active living.

The Optimist Club of Saskatoon has been known mainly for their contribution to the City of Saskatoon and to the community by hosting the annual Canada Day celebrations in Diefenbaker Park. A few years ago, the Optimist Club of Saskatoon resolved to create a winter legacy for the City of Saskatoon. As the city flourishes, the need for permanent winter recreation grows. A Winter Recreation Park & Lifestyle Activity Centre would fulfill the needs of an ever-growing population and provide the community with safe, family activities during long Saskatchewan winters. A survey conducted by Insightrix Research Inc. states that of nearly 1,000 residents surveyed, 96% were in favour of the Winter Recreation Park & Lifestyle Activity Centre and 82% would use the facility. The introduction and success of the Winter Recreation Park & Lifestyle Activity Centre could potentially expand to summer activities at the hill and Lifestyle Activity Centre. Remember when we’d turn off the television and put down the games, and we had fun in the fresh air. We’d play so hard and laugh so much — we wouldn’t notice the cold at all! It turns out, our parents were right. When kids play outside, they gain more than just fun. They develop vital life skills and healthy lifestyle habits. Active outdoor play builds healthy bodies and fosters self-reliance, confidence, and independence. When families play together, children learn from example that outdoor physical activity is an important part of a happy and healthy lifestyle. These days, too many Canadian children spend their free time — as much as nine hours a day — watching television or playing video and computer games, rather than engaging in outdoor physical play. Only a third of children take part in sports, and less than half play sports year round. Fewer kids play outside at recess or after school. Only a handful walk enough on a regular basis to experience any health benefits. But when children play, they’re not just exercising their bodies. They’re building skills and abilities that will benefit them through their lives – both personally and in the workplace. Through play, kids acquire and develop in-demand “soft skills” — collaboration, communication, problem solving, time management, and leadership — that spell success in education and employment. A local facility for outdoor winter activities – like snowboarding, skiing, tobogganing, and tubing – would give us a place to go play outside. As well, the facility would offer a new and prominent venue for community events and gatherings.

What Community Project would most benefit from the prize money?

Our vision in Phase 1 is to establish an affordable, family oriented recreation and activity Winter Recreation Park at Diefenbaker Park. The attractions will include a hill with 4-5 groomed lanes for snow tubing, a snow terrain park and snowboarding area, a smaller hill for children and beginners, and an enhanced, free tobogganing area. Having a magic carpet (conveyor belt) or a J-hook lift, or both, with an attendant will allow parents, grandparents, and children to get to the top of the hill safely and with ease. The park will provide youth and families with winter recreation activities to promote a healthy lifestyle which encourages fitness and overall wellness within the community. Tube, ski and snowboard rentals used on the hill will be available if needed. Like the Optimist Club of Saskatoon, the Western Development Museum is an active member of local tourism and they too are committed to the community. As we have made initial contact, we feel the potential to partner with them and share services by creating tour packages will add uniqueness to our province and city. As well, our fellow Optimist clubs in the city look forward to a shared facility for meetings and special events. A local tour company, Eco Glide Adventures, has shown interest in adding the Winter Recreation Park & Lifestyle Activity Centre to their itinerary. They specialize in tourism and corporate events and are excited about the possibility of utilizing the Meewasin Valley Trails surrounding us. Preliminary discussions may entail an opportunity for them to rent storage space from us to store their Personal Transporters (PT’s) at our location during our off season. As the Meewasin Valley Trail runs approximately 60 km along the river valley and through the City and surrounding Municipalities, their approval is vital. The Meewasin Valley mission statement declares, “The Meewasin Valley Authority exists to ensure a healthy and vibrant river valley, with a balance between human use and conservation.” Not unlike the Winter Recreation Park & Lifestyle Activity Centre, they too are interested in, “the benefit of present and future generations.” Preliminary discussions with the Saskatoon School Division have been encouraging. They have shown great interest in adding this location to potential outdoor education. By adding activities such as snow shoeing and cross country skiing to the existing activities, this would put the project in line with their physical education curriculum. Initial projections estimate 1350 students in the Public School Division would visit the park yearly. The Prairie Spirit School Division has shown interest in the Winter Recreation Park & Lifestyle Activity Centre and The Saskatoon Catholic School Division has also been approached by the committee to inquire on their interest in the Winter Recreation Park & Lifestyle Activity Centre. Schools and teachers will also have the option of booking the Winter Recreation Park & Lifestyle Activity Centre and facility throughout the season on a pay-per-person basis as an added activity and field trip option. Currently, several schools travel annually to Table Mountain in North Battleford, SK to provide a day of outdoor physical activity for their students. With the rising cost of transportations, these types of school sanctioned day trips are not financially available to all students. Because of the distance, school buses are not utilized for these school trips and Greyhound buses are costly, not to mention the rising cost of equipment rentals. Having a Winter Recreation Park & Lifestyle Activity Centre in Saskatoon would enable our students to enjoy ½ days at the park with costs that are possible for everyone and planning made simple as extra bus rentals are not required. The design of our Phase 2 chalet allows an area for storage as requested by the city.

What impact would this project have on your community?

Tourism & Economic EDGE The project also offers a huge tourism and economic opportunity when visitors join the fun! Optimist Hill would provide outdoor and indoor facilities at a central and convenient location. The indoor facilities, a chalet with rooms suitable for meeting and social gatherings, take advantage of the riverbank’s natural beauty and can host a range of community events, including festivals, concerts, and other celebrations. 45% of Saskatoon's visitors visit Saskatoon in the months between October to March. This park will be one more reason they come to Saskatoon and we believe will expand on the number of visitors who come during the winter months, as well as those who come in summer months. Nearly half of all visitors to Saskatoon stay overnight, and out-of-province guests account for 56% of all spending by overnight visitors to Saskatoon. We also know that Employers need to be able to promote the livable city and enjoyable city elements when recruiting employees from other cities, provinces and countries, we believe this park project will serve as an invaluable asset in this regard. Additionally, companies when considering locating to Saskatoon what to ensure this is a lovable city and one in which their employees can prosper and live a full life. This park project will add to this element for such companies.

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