OLDS — The Rotary Athletic Park of Olds was officially opened on Saturday, Sept. 11.
About 100 people attended the ceremony, including town councillors and staff as well as Mountain View County Reeve Bruce Beattie, Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper, Olds Mayor Mike Muzychka, and representatives of several local businesses that made major donations toward the facility.
The approximately $3.6-million park is located along 70th Avenue, just north of Walmart. It contains soccer pitches, baseball diamonds, and horseshoe pits.
It took a couple of years to build the park. The town, province, Mountain View County, Rotary Club of Olds, Kiwanis Club of Olds and various businesses and individuals all contributed toward its construction and amenities.
In 2016, the town of Olds announced an injection of $3 million toward the creation of the park.
Residents were asked to contribute toward enhancements like bleachers. They ended up donating more than $1 million. Mountain View County officials said they’d match what was raised and did so.
The Alberta government also gave $100,000 toward the creation of the facility.
People began using it in 2020. Due to COVID restrictions, a soft opening -- a video of officials speaking -- was held in 2020.
Saturday’s opening came on a sombre day, not only weatherwise, it was cold and overcast in the morning after an overnight rain, but because it was the 20th anniversary of the attacks by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Reports say 2,977 people were killed, 19 hijackers committed murder/suicide, and more than 6,000 people were injured.
In remembrance of that tragedy, a moment of silence was held as opening ceremonies of the athletic park got underway.
Several speeches were given.
MC and former Rotary Club of Olds president Peter Premachuk praised all those who contributed to funding the project -- including those who participated in many Rotary Club fundraisers and the Kiwanis Club of Olds which shared two 50/50 cash draws that raised $20,000 toward the park.
Premachuk said because of all those efforts, the Rotary club was able to meet its $500,000 funding commitment for the park about a year ahead of time.
He thanked all levels of government, the many local businesses and individuals who donated funds for its construction and those who served as Rotary Club presidents during the fundraising campaign.
"To our fundraising committee chair Trish Branter, you can relax; but just for now,” he said.
“This facility is just a shining, gleaming example of what the spirit of the town of Olds, the county of Mountain View and the province of Alberta just exemplify,” Muzychka said.
“The challenges that we’ve had over the past 18 months with all of our youth being locked up and very little socialization just makes this facility absolutely so important.”
Beattie said because the opening occurred on the 20th anniversary of 9-11, it will be etched that much more in peoples’ minds.
He said the county believes in the importance of recreational facilities, what they can do for the health of residents. That’s why it contributes money toward recreational facilities throughout Mountain View County.
“In 2021, the county would have contributed a little over $1.9 million towards recreation and culture in the county and a little bit less than half a million dollars towards operating in Olds,” Beattie said. “That’s just a recognition of the value of these recreation facilities I think to people.
“I think we have to remember that when there is recreation and when there are facilities like this, that takes a lot of work or burden off of our health care system because we have a healthier population. Plus, it gives the kids something to do besides play video games.”
Cooper said fundraising for – and construction of – the athletic park shows what dedicated, community-minded people can do.
“It is the product of much work of a small group of well-meaning, committed individuals who care about each other, who care about our community and in turn care about our province,” Cooper said.
Kurt Kowalchuk, the governor nominee for Rotary district 5360 also spoke.
“It takes real commitment and vision to make real changes in the world. The Rotary Club of Olds, the town of Olds, Mountain View County, the provincial government, and all of the community have united to make a lasting change in your community,” Kowalchuk said.
“This facility will have a lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of both young and old. On behalf of Rotary District 5360, I congratulate you on making a dream come true. May the games begin!”
As part of the festivities, town councillors cooked hotdogs. Popcorn, potato chips and other and treats were made available for the public as well.
Lots of games were scheduled, including youth and adult soccer, baseball and slow pitch. People came from as far as Calgary to pitch horseshoes.
Several kids participated in inflatable games too.