Riverfront enthusiasm re-ignited by Prince Albert Historical Society

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Prince Albert Historical Society president Dennis Ogrodnick gives a presentation at Monday’s city council meeting highlighting the society’s ambitious historical riverfront idea. 

Rekindling interest in improving the city’s picturesque riverbank, the Prince Albert Historical Society brings ambition to the table.

 

Proposing a history-centred riverfront makeover, society president Dennis Ogrodnick asked council to consider the society’s vision at Monday’s city council meeting. 

“Nothing is set in stone, and we’d like to see the idea move forward on the development of the riverbank from the Diefenbaker bridge to Riverside (Community) School,” Ogrodnick said.

As he explained at the previous week’s executive committee meeting, Ogrodnick wants to see the historic Nesbit Church and Block House log buildings relocated from Kinsmen Park to the riverbank.

The two buildings would accompany other potential riverbank development, including a tipi, paddlewheel tours, a potential restaurant and various other options.

Everything’s in keeping with the city-developed 20 Year Master Plan for the River Valley Park, which was drafted in 2004; since which time nothing has happened.

“Over the next 10 years maybe we could afford this,” Ogrodnick told council

The city’s stretch of park space that hugs the North Saskatchewan River is overseen by the Pêhonân Parkway Board, which Coun. Don Cody chairs.

“I think it’s a good plan and it’s at least doing something, which is something we haven’t done in 20 years,” he said of the society’s ambitious plans.

The provincial government is currently in an agreement with the city to provide $162,000 toward the park per year in matching funding.

“I’m sure that they’re going to one of these days say to us, look folks, we didn’t give you money to cut grass along the riverbank,” Cody said.

“We gave you this money because you said you wanted to improve the riverbank and make it look like something they have in Saskatoon and/or Regina.”

Nothing is set in stone, and we’d like to see the idea move forward on the development of the riverbank from the Diefenbaker bridge to Riverside (Community) School. Dennis Ogrodnick

Intending his presentation to spark discussion about the future of the riverfront, Ogrodnick’s presentation was a success.

City council plans to continue their conversation during two days of strategic planning sessions in mid-June.

After Monday’s meeting, Mayor Greg Dionne said that while he’s not so sure about the Prince Albert Historical Society’s plans, he recognizes that more needs to be done with the city’s riverfront land.

“At the end of the day you want our riverbank to come alive and have a reason to go there,” he said.

“I’m into economic development, so I want to build something on the river that’s going to draw people.”

Surmising that an expanded museum presence on the riverfront might not draw the kind of crowd he’s envisioned, Dionne said that other options would be considered in the near future.

The riverfront in places like Saskatoon and Regina is alive with activity in the summer, with mobile food vendors serving those out relaxing on the park space.

“That’s one of the most valuable pieces of property -- on the riverbank,” Dionne said.

“I’d like to see a really nice restaurant, maybe on an old steamboat tied up on the dock. It’s got to be something unique that’s going to draw people to the riverfront.”

In addition to the park space itself, the city currently owns a swath of land on the south side of River Street near Davidner’s Western Wear and the National Hotel, Dionne pointed out.

The city is currently negotiating the sale of the land, which will open up more opportunities for private enterprise.  

Organizations: Prince Albert Historical Society, Nesbit Church, Block House Pêhonân Parkway Board National Hotel

Geographic location: Kinsmen Park, Saskatoon, Regina River Valley Park North Saskatchewan River River Street

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