Ribbon cut at Edmonton’s newest pavilion built to celebrate a century of community leagues

A ribbon was cut at Edmonton’s newest pavilion at Hawrelak Park on Saturday as part of a project by the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues that was 10 years in making.

“[The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues] hit their 90th anniversary 10 years ago and they had a great event and then they all walked away and then they thought I think for [our] 100, we have to do something bigger,” said Laura Cunningham-Shpeley, executive director of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues.

The $4.5 million plaza was developed to celebrate 100 years of community leagues in Edmonton.

Read more: Prolonged concerns with Hawrelak Park prompt Heritage Festival to search for new home

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Over the years, the project received an array of support including funding from all three levels of government.

“Our priorities have been tougher and tighter lately but this is something we’ve committed to mark the milestone of a century of community leagues in Edmonton and I’m just so glad to see it come to fruition,” Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said.

The plaza is right along the riverfront and is a gathering place featuring a stone fireplace, but this new addition didn’t come without challenges.

“Lots of meetings, lots of issues to work through. It’s a special spot. We had to be careful how we used it and not get in the way of other people while we were doing it,” said Allan Bolstad with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues.

In its early stages, the project raised concerns for those in charge of the Heritage Festival, who were worried about having adequate space to get through the pavilion.

“In the original drawings, it wasn’t wide enough for emergency vehicles to get through, so if someone was injured or is something happened, we couldn’t get the emergency vehicles through,” Jim Gibbon, executive director of the Heritage Festival.

After addressing these issues, changes were made.

“I admit we were nervous before… about traffic flow. Now that I’ve seen this space behind me, I’ve seen how wide it is, how smooth it is, I have no concerns anymore. I’m actually really happy I’ve seen it. It’s stunning,” Gibbon said.

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The Heritage Festival says it looks to forward to once again celebrating at the park with the new addition, pandemic permitting.

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