The idea of a whitewater park at the Saskatoon weir is resurfacing after it was first floated over a decade ago.
A Saskatoon group made a pitch Monday at City Hall in hopes of getting the city on board with helping to build it.
Kent Gray with the Saskatoon Whitewater Proposal Committee said the park would be more affordable if built alongside a proposed hydro-electric plant.
The Saskatoon Tribal Council and the City struck a partnership earlier this month on a proposed $62 million dollar green energy project.
Gray said that agreement has renewed interest in building a whitewater park.
“We have this opportunity to build an amazing community facility for a fraction of the full cost,” said Gray, adding their group is prepared to raise a portion of the funds.
A 2010 study pegged the cost of the park at $12-million, but Gray told the committee Monday it could be done for $3-million if built in conjunction with the hydro project.
Gray said the savings would come because the park project could piggyback off of work needed to build the power station, such as installing coffer dams in the river. He added that money not covered by fundraising could be raised through a federal government grant program, provided the city supports their application for the funding.
“There is a lot energy in the committee that is ready to mobilize around the park, even more so than 5 years ago because of the growing paddle board and river surfing community.”
A spokesperson for the Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA) expressed optimism for both projects, however the environmental impact will need be examined before the urban park would give its support.
“In terms of the whitewater park, similarly at a conceptional level, Meewasin supports efforts to create amenties that attract people to the river valley to help animate the river valley and make it a vibrant place,” said Mike Velonas, MVA manager of planning and conversation said.
The hydro project and whitewater park would need to pass Meewasin’s public hearing process for approval.
On the Brent Loucks Show Tuesday, Mayor Charlie Clark said he supported creating more opportunities for recreation on the river, but added a whitewater park would need to be accessible to everyone, not just seasoned paddlers.
“You need it to be something that any kid in an inner tube and life jacket could have a chance on a Saturday afternoon to have a chance to play in the river,” he said.