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Grand opening delights families at new playground and splash park

Official ribbon cutting for Co-operators Play Zone and splash park

It took a lot of hard work, a lot of hopes and prayers and a lot of tacos in a bag, but the Co-operators Play Zone playground and splash park is officially open in Pogadl Park.

The ribbon cutting ceremony took place on July 22, with several dignitaries in attendance and a large group of children waiting to rush in as soon as the ribbon was down.

“I love the facility and I think it’s so wonderful that we have it,” said Sylvan Lake Mayor Megan Hanson. “This was truly a grassroots community project. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a community member in Sylvan Lake in the last 10 years who hasn’t supported this project, even if they didn’t know it. Maybe they bought a taco in a bag or came out to an event. It makes me happy to finally have the doors open and people enjoying it. Our community worked for it. It really was a taco in a bag at a time.”

Hanson told the gathered crowd at the ribbon cutting that she attended her first splash park meeting in 2013. This dream has been a long time in the making.

“I’m so proud of the committee that made this happen,” she said. “We would get a donation of $20 and it was so exciting. Every dollar really made an impact. The big grants were great, but we celebrated every dollar because those smaller increments allowed us to apply for the funding.”

In addition to boots-on-the-ground fundraising, the title sponsorship money came in from Co-operators – Murdoch D’Mello Insurance & Financial Solutions Inc. here in Sylvan Lake and the town received the government’s Community Enhancement grant in 2020, which sealed the deal and allowed construction to begin.

“At Co-operators, we’re all about giving back to the community,” said Priscilla D’Mello, co-owner of the Co-operators branch, who attended the grand opening with her partner, Skylar Murdoch, and their two young children. “Why a splash park? It was kind of a selfish thing – our kids love splash parks and playgrounds. For us, it was more about being involved in an aspect of the community that brings people together and everyone can be included.”

D’Mello said as a family who lives and works in Sylvan Lake, they want to make the community better.

“If we’re doing the right thing and giving back, it’ll all work out,” she said, while watching her children dash around the playground and come down the slide. “Sylvan Lake gets better every year. Everybody can be involved and make a difference.”

The final cost for the spray park was $512,375 and the cost for the playground was $400,000. The Co-operators’ sponsorship brought in $70,000 and Hanson explained this amount is payable over the next 10 years.

“Any way a company wants to provide sponsorships, we can work it out,” she said.

The Play Zone is the second phase to open within the Pogadl Park area, with the Gulls stadium and the baseball diamonds opening up for play last year.

The next phase of development within the park will be the campground portion, on the west side of the 80-acre development. The campground will have capacity for RVs and tenting and Hanson said the main purpose of this campground will be to support the ball diamonds and people coming in for tournaments. It will be open to the general public, as well.

“There’s an economic impact of sports tourism,” Hanson explained. “There’s a ripple effect in the community and it’s great.”

The park will be built out over a number of years, depending on the dollars and grants coming in. Future development will include a pump track, a walking track, pickleball courts and a lot more.

“We decided to do it piece by piece when we have the money, so the community can enjoy it,” said Hanson. “We really like this approach we’ve taken – as soon as it’s ready, we’ll open the doors.”