September 16, 2017 8:06 pm
Updated: September 16, 2017 8:36 pm

Edmonton’s first downtown park in 30 years officially opens

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton's first new downtown park in 30 years officially opened this morning. Kim Smith reports.

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Downtown Edmonton’s first new park in 30 years officially opened Saturday morning, honouring Canada’s first Indigenous police officer.

The $4.3 million Alex Decoteau Park was transformed from an old parking lot at 105 Street and 102 Avenue.

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“It’s a really big deal,” said Martina Gardiner, director of open space infrastructure for the city. “I think what this is- is a catalyst project. We haven’t seen something happen in downtown of this magnitude, scope and scale in thirty years.”

“When you look at downtown it’s very grey. There’s a lot of asphalt, a lot of concrete, a lot of buildings.”

“As soon as a green space pops up it really brings life into the area.”

The park is named after Alex Decoteau, the first Indigenous police officer in the country. The former Edmontonian represented Canada at the 1912 Olympics and served in the First World War. Decoteau was killed in 1917 during the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

READ MORE: Remembering Alex Decoteau: Olympian, soldier, Canada’s first aboriginal police officer

An art piece was unveiled Saturday to honour his accomplishments.

“I tried to capture his spirit of love for racing and love for his community,” said the Toronto-based artist Pierre Poussin. “The design is an abstracted figure essentially crossing the finish line because of his love of sport.”

“He won countless races throughout Canada and was a Canadian Olympian, so I wanted to honour his love of sport and community.”

The park was a collaboration between the city, businesses and residents and had been in the works for a decade. It features fountains, a community garden and an off-leash dog park.

“A lot of people are choosing to live downtown and when you live in an apartment or condo, you don’t have that private backyard,” said Chris Buyze, president of the Downtown Community League.

The park unofficially opened to the public on Sept. 9. Scott Desantis and Brittany Dakins live a block away and said they’ve already visited the off-leash area about a dozen times with their dog and really enjoy it.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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