A new fully inclusive, and accessible park will soon be a reality in Galt Gardens in downtown Lethbridge. This, was after the city announced a $375,000 chunk of financing through the federal government’s Community Revitalization Fund.
Lethbridge Urban Revitalization Manager, Andrew Malcolm, says the location of the park, adjacent to the Rotary Fountain, is an ideal way for the municipality to try and expand the use of the park. He adds it’s part of a wider strategy to continually grow the number of residents, and tourists who would consider downtown a destination location.
“We have seen a great deal of success in the downtown when we have more people on the street, enjoying patios, shopping or sitting around enjoying the environment, it’s a natural deterrent to negative behaviour,” he says.
“We are really excited to be adding another amenity to the park to bring families, to bring people to extend their time downtown and [subsequently] would be to discourage some of that negative behaviour that may be a perception of people in our community.”
Malcolm says one caveat with the funding, which sees the city pony up $125,000 of the total $500,000 cost, is that the turnaround on construction is less than traditional. He adds its expected shovels will be in the ground by Summer 2022, with a completion date of Spring 2023.
He adds what separates this park from others around the City of Lethbridge, is the lack of what would be considered traditional playground fare. Replacing things like swings and slides will be features including sensory areas and rubber mats, amongst other things. He believes it will not only give the space a unique look but will allow for large sections of the community, regardless of ability, to enjoy the gardens area.
“If you go around the city, most of the playgrounds have a couple of unique elements or have a different design, but ultimately they look and feel the same,” he says.
“This is really our first true urban park, it’s going to feel different, and we hope that brings a whole different kind of group of our community out to enjoy public space, which was important before COVID-19, but I think through [it] it has given kind of a new emphasis on the value of open space and public space.”