Iroquois perk up kicks off

One hundred years after the sinking of its namesake, the Town of Sidney is setting sail on the revamp of Iroquois Park.

“A hundred years ago the SS Iroquois went down just off the coast here,” said  MLA Murray Coell during the official groundbreaking ceremony near the original propellor from the ill-fated vessel. “We’re here to rededicate that today, to also start rebuildling the park that a lot of people put a lot of work into.”

The groundbreaking event was also a moment to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Iroquois on April 10, 1911. The steamship left dock in Sidney, and 15 minutes later took on water and sank, taking about 10 souls with it.

“This is sort of the last project when you look at Lochside and the interchange and a lot of the beautification across the road. This is sort of the end of the line for beautification projects that have taken place over the last 24 months,” Coell added.

Full site work preparations are expected to start in early May to launch the improvements to Iroquois Park. The upgrades to the park are funded by a federal/provincial Building Canada Infrastructure Grant, plus Sidney by the Sea Rotary did an extensive fundraising campaign to include a water park in the upgraded green space.

This project is expected to cost $2,900,000. The provincial and federal governments each contributed more than $752,800.

“If we hadn’t had those funds now, I can assure you that we would be much slower, much later and perhaps not even doing this particular project at this time,” said Sidney Mayor Larry Cross. “It’s going to be an addition to the jewels of Sidney.”

The tweaked Iroquois Park will include a redesigned pond area, new multi-purpose court, change room and washroom facility near the playing field and the long-awaited water park. The tourism information centre will remain on the site and a new community building will house the Sidney Lions Food Bank.

“There will be a wonderful, wonderful children’s water spray park as part of the amenity here, and moms and grandparents, because I’m one of those folks now, will certainly want to bring their children here to enjoy that amenity during the warm weather,” Cross said. “I’m very happy that we’re able to give some consideration to the concern the local residents had (for) the historical apple trees,” he added. The apple and pear trees are trimmed and ready for spring. While a couple may have to come down, (they were determined unhealthy by an arborist) the parks department has taken cuttings from the trees and put them on root stock in preparation for replanting.

The revitalization for the 1.8 hectare park at Fifth Street and Ocean Avenue includes road realignment and a roundabout (to be installed in 2012) at that intersection to allow easier and safer access to the park and across Fifth Street.

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