One of the most anticipated projects in Saskatoon is soon to be a reality, as ground was broken on Friday to officially kick off construction on Optimist Hill.
Over the coming months, work will be done to the hill and surrounding area in Diefenbaker Park to transform the area into a recreational space that can be used in the spring and the summer.
“A lot of people were probably skeptical that we were ever going to get to this point but I want the community to know we’re here and this project is going ahead,” Robert Letts, co-chair of the Optimist Hill Campaign, said. “It’s going to be a fabulous park when it’s done.”
At a cost of $1.2 million and entirely funded by the community, phase one will split the hill into four sections for tubing, skiing and snowboarding, a terrain park and tobogganing area. There will also be two lift systems installed.
Thirty vertical feet will also be added to the hill by digging out 15 feet from the bottom of the hill and adding another 15 feet to the top. Runs are expected to be between 140 and 160 metres. The park will also be lined with evergreen trees as a windbreak.
The first phase of the project is expected to be open this winter, with a general admission price of $10 being discussed for skiing, snowboarding and tubing while a section of the hill will be free for tobogganing.
“We know how good this is going to be for our community, for our kids, for adults to spend time with their families,” Jim Vant Hof, co-chair of the Optimist Hill Campaign, said.
According to Vant Hof, phase one of the project is 70 to 80 per cent funded.
The second phase includes the construction of a chalet, which would bring the total project cost to around $7 million.