Moosomin Regional Park has won the top provincial honor for a regional park—it has been named 2017 Park of the Year by the Saskatchewan Association of Regional Parks.
“The Saskatchewan Regional Parks Association gives a Park of the Year award every year,” said park manager Wayne Beckett.
“You need to submit your application and see if you make the cut. We made a lot of improvements over the past year, so we submitted our proposal. The criteria is that your park has to have made significant changes over the past years or overcome obstacles. We have got a lot of positive feedback from patrons so we thought we would take a shot. We got the award at the AGM and the minister of parks, recreation and culture was there and gave us the award.”
There have been a lot of changes and improvements at the park over the years.
The Living Skies Come Alive fireworks show is an ongoing event that gets bigger and better every year. This will be the eighth year the regional park has hosted the event. Last year the park had just over 7,000 people through the gates.
“Compared to other parks and the events they put on, this is head and shoulders above what anyone else has done,” said Beckett. “It has become a camping destination for a lot of people. They plan their summer get-together and reunions around that weekend. When we open up for bookings on March 1, that is the first weekend to be gone. The park is packed for that weekend.”
The park has also put a lot of work into beautification, with improved tree trimming and the addition of flower beds.
“At the front corner we have a big new flower bed. It will be our new attraction with a giant lily that was donated to us which was made by Ken Goodman of Goodman Steel,” says Beckett. “Carol Fawcett is our lead on flower beds and she has an idea to make that a very attractive spot. That will be a focal point when you come into the park.”
Other improvements include the addition of six new campsites at the site of the former Scout cabin, the addition of a pickleball court, and the addition of a disc golf course.
As well, Beckett points out, “we have added a new swimming platform, and we made our marina bigger. We have made a lot of improvements on the hiking trails. We’ve just been trying to make it more of an attractive park and more enjoyable.”
More improvements are planned for this summer. A new toll booth and park office is being built at the entrance to the park, the park board will be running the store itself this year rather than contracting it out, and soft ice cream will be added to the store.
The park board is also planning to add some new picnic shelters. Across from the store there will be a covered shelter there with a cement floor and barbecue for people heading out for the day to have a picnic. The park is also building a portable covered stage that can be used for the fireworks weekend and other events through the summer.
Beckett believes the future has unlimited potential for the park. “There is potential for a driving range, mini golf, kids BMX bike track, and there are other events that could be held out there with that stage. The more we offer for people to do out there the more they will want to come out and camp there.”
Beckett says it was an honor to receive the award.
“It’s very satisfying to see our hard work recognized,” he said. “The board works really well together. There’s a good bunch of people on there. It was nice to be recognized in front of all of our peers.”
Regional Park Board chair Chris Davidson said he believes the range of amenities at the park and the Living Skies Come Alive fireworks competition are big factors of the reason the park has been recognized.
“The Saskatchewan Regional Park Association come out and do accreditation inspections where they look at all your facilities and amenities,” he says. “Our park has a lot of amenities—we’ve got fishing and swimming, hiking trails and ball diamonds, and now pickle ball courts.
“The fireworks show is a big part of it. It started out when there was a guy from Windthorst who worked for a Regina fireworks crew. He started doing it, then we turned it into a competition, and now it’s going to be an international competition between China and Canada, so it’s grown into quite a thing. It’s grown into a bigger event than we ever thought.”
He said the big project the park has been raising money for through the years is a new water treatment plan.
“We’ve got our new water treatment plant all engineered and ready to go. We’ve been waiting on the federal government. We’ve had an application in there for over two years for a grant to help finance it, and it hasn’t come. We might have to move forward on our own. We’re looking at somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000, and we’ve got a big chunk of it set aside already. We’ve been raising money for it for the last number of years. We might have to move forward on it this year.”
Davidson said it feels good to receive recognition at the provincial level. “We never thought to apply before, and this year we did and we won. It’s nice to get that recognition for what we’re doing.”