One of Saskatoon’s most anticipated projects is moving closer to becoming a reality.
Construction crews and equipment have made their way to Diefenbaker Park to begin construction of Optimist Hill.
Work began last week to remove light standards surrounding what’s currently known as Diefenbaker Hill. Workers also began work on water and sewage infrastructure.
Dubbed “part one of phase one” by Optimist Hill Campaign co-chair Joe Van’t Hof, the first steps of construction are to make way for an upcoming chalet at the bottom of the hill.
“It’s very exciting to see that happen,” Van’t Hof said.
Council approved the project and fundraising plan back in 2015. Van’t Hof said he’s pleased to see the years of effort start to pay off.
“There’s certainly been some challenges and some hurdles, but the joy of seeing some construction equipment come to the hill and start to work is certainly exciting.”
Van’t Hof said people can expect construction to ramp up in the next two weeks.
Tenders are still being prepared for the second step of construction, which will see the hill itself expanded beginning later this summer.
“We hope to have some derivative of the hill open this winter with a magic carpet ride, a snowboard area, skiing area and tubing runs,” Van’t Hof said.
“The goal is to get us started and get moving on the project.”
Beyond that, Van’t Hof said more money is needed to build the chalet, which is meant to create a ski village atmosphere at the site during the winter.
Van’t Hof said he thinks fundraising shouldn’t be a problem once the hill’s new features are open for use.
“I know that people are just waiting to see for that activity start at the hill, and we’ll probably have some other fundraising efforts that are attached to that,” he said.
“You’ve got to walk before you run.”
Parts of the park will be closed to the public as construction expands, including portions of the disc golf course at the park.
Van’t Hoff said those parts of the park will be restored once construction is complete.
In the meantime, he asked people to bear with the construction.
“(We) just ask for the public’s patience while we sculpt that hill and make it an absolutely outstanding facility for all people to use in Saskatoon.”