‘Community gives us hope:’ Edmonton’s community leagues celebrate 100 years with opening of Hawrelak Park plaza

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“I think community leagues are a bit like humble pie. They don’t celebrate themselves, they don’t recognize the role they do play in bringing the community together and I really just want to call out to all Edmontonians, go on our website, find your league and reach out to them,” Cunningham-Shpeley said Saturday. “This has been quite the year to build a project. It has been a journey like no other for our small but mighty organization and today is the day that we celebrate a beautiful project that came in on budget.”

The project was made possible through funding of $1.35 million from the City of Edmonton as well as grants of $1.5 million and $355,000 from the provincial and federal governments respectively.

On hand for the ceremony, Mayor Don Iveson said community leagues continue to help build a stronger Edmonton and it was important to recognize that commitment with a gathering place for all residents to enjoy.

“It is the sense of community that has always set Edmonton apart and that we should absolutely share with the world,” Iveson told guests in attendance. “Community gives us hope and that’s what community leagues do everyday. On soccer fields, in community league buildings and at city hall getting us to make even more thoughtful decisions based on your input. That all generates hope, which we need right now.”

Cunningham-Shpeley said she’s hopeful Edmontonians can get good use of the plaza before a 10-year rehabilitation project of Hawrelak Park could interrupt access. Construction is set to start as early as 2023 and could result in multi-year closures of the park.

“I’m hoping we’ll have a few years at least where people can still enjoy it. We can’t control everything the city does, we just do what we can,” she said.

But for now, the plaza remains open and highlights the timeline of community leagues in Edmonton dating back to 1921. The plaza also features a time capsule and art installations to showcase what the leagues represent.

duscook@postmedia.com

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