In 2011, the recreation hall at Cypress Park crumbled under the weight of heavy snowfall and the park has since been without such a facility.
However, Friends of Cypress Hills has picked up the torch and taken on the task of building a new community centre.
Since its formation in 2003, the group has accomplished a variety of projects that enhance the park for visitors and residents alike. These projects include such things as a childrens playground, the dock at Loch Leven, and the observatory which opened in 2011. The Friends have now undertaken the most ambitious project of all – building a community centre to replace the recreation hall.
August 19 marked the sod turning for the new hall. The Friends of Cypress Hills, cottage owners, park staff and visitors gathered for the event.
CEO of the Friends, Gerald Gartner, expressed appreciation for financial support received – from the Friends of Cypress Hills, Cabin Owners Association, area farmers and ranchers, RV owners, corporate sponsors and the general public. He noted the generous financial assistance given by Canadian Natural Resources.
The Friends were required to have 50 per cent of the funding guaranteed before the government would issue a permit to build the structure. Thanks to several supporters this was achieved. The permit was issued last Thursday, and immediately excavation work began. Friends of Cypress Hills are acting as the general contractor for the project.
The estimated total cost of the community hall is $750,000.
Gartner said construction of a new hall has been a long time coming. “I remember starting on this project in 1998 when the old one was still standing here and we tried to reshingle it.”
According to Gartner, phase 1 of the construction project – the foundation and basic structure – should be complete by the end of September. Next year, the floor will be completed and some finishes will be done. After that, work will be completed as money becomes available.
Larry Schiefner, park area manager for the Southwest, was on hand for the sod turning.
“The ministry is very pleased this project has come together… Cypress Hills is a beautiful park, there is going to be over 300,000 visitors through here this year so this community centre will be something that will be here and will be a fantastic experience that you will be providing here for many people for many years,” Schiefner said.
Ironically, the park is owned by the Saskatchewan government, but the government has so far not provided any funding for the construction of the community centre. Friends of Cypress Hills is responsible for raising all the funds needed, but are still hopeful that the government will come through with some funding.
Park naturalist Melody Nagel-Hisey is happy to see a new community centre being built. “We’re really pleased that this project is moving forward…because we’re in the programing end of things…We’ve been missing this facility for some time now and we can see lots of different activities taking place here over the next many generations.”
She thanked the Friends of Cypress Hills for making it happen.
Currently the Friends are selling 50-50 tickets with a draw to take place September 28. If all tickets are sold the winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize. Tickets are available from any member of the Friends of Cypress Hills and at several area businesses. Direct contributions are also welcome – go to http://www.friendsofthepark.ca or any member, or send to Friends of Cypress Hills Park at Box 2175, Maple Creek, SK S0N 1N0. All donations are tax deductible.