It’s been over a decade since water last flowed through the fountainhead at Centennial Park.
Electrical issues and water leakage forced the town at the time to close it down.
Since then the park had seen a slow deterioration as its sidewalks, fountain pool and iconic wall gave way to time.
This point of interest to Kitimat was almost relegated as just a relic of a past era.
However, a new direction is being taken as the park and fountain are in the midst of a major renovation.
It’s year two of a three year plan to revitalize Centennial Park, and perhaps the most visual change has already happened. The water again flows from the fountain.
Yet it almost wasn’t to be. When the town’s Leisure Services department first broached the issue with council ahead of the 2011 budget, the recommendation was to turn the pool into a flower bed and take down the wall entirely — being so old, the wall was thought to be a safety hazard.
That plan was nearly enacted before community groups, notably the Kitimat Heritage Group, the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club, along with some private individuals approached council and urged them to take another look.
Council did and the result was a the multi-year plan in work today.
Leisure Services Director Martin Gould said the fountain job isn’t quite done but is very close. All that’s remaining now is to install a water-level sensor so the pool will automatically refill when it gets low enough, and they need to install a sensor on the fountain itself so that if water does get too low the fountain will shut itself down to protect its machinery.
This year the city will also be fixing the park’s sidewalks by putting in paver stones, said Gould.
Next year will be all about the green space. The flower beds will be improved and the trees will be, ehm, spruced up.
“There are some trees in there that are very old,” said Gould, noting that some have been there since the park opened in 1971 and “they’re looking old.”
From Gould’s vantage point in his office above the City Centre Mall, he said since the fountain’s been turned on there have been noticeably more visitors to the park, from individuals to families with their children.
Louise Avery, member of the Kitimat Heritage Group and curator of the museum, is happy to see the park being rejuvenated.
“It’s very lovely to have it going because it’s a downtown feature for Kitimat; it’s been and always will be,” she said.