June 17, 2024 June 17, 2024

Kale Porteous Memorial Splash Park officially opens

Posted on 27 July 2022 by Ryan Dahlman
With Gordon Reynolds video taping the opening of the gates and Ryan Thurston giving the thumbs up sign from in the back, Kale’s parents Garth and Karla Porteous look on with pride and a lot of emotion to see all the hard work come to fruition.

Centennial Park is a beautiful area for those residents and visitors of Bow Island. It now also has some added beauty as of July 16.

With the words from Karla (Laidlaw) Porteous: “The time has come to let the kids enjoy for everyone to get their feet wet and enjoy something Caleb would have raved about. Kira, Landon, Makaya please officially open the park,” a beautiful and unique splash park opened July 16 during Bow Island Days, much to the screaming delight of dozens and dozens of children who couldn’t wait to cool off on a hot afternoon. 

However, the Kale Porteous Memorial Splash Park is far more than a place for children and adults to cool off. To many, it is a symbol of community spirit as many contributed time, labour, financial considerations and did it in a way where it truly is a community park. A grand opening for the splash park was held in front of hundreds of people.

Thanks to a massive charity fundraiser the 2021 Troy Loney Charity Golf Classic raised a lot of money and coupled with other donations and contributions, a total of nearly $600,000 for the project was raised. Members of the local committee then got involved in getting the splash park organized and how it would get completed. It was an emotional moment for Kale’s parents. Kale was 11 years-old when he lost his life in a tragic farm accident in 2018. 

Karla was throughly touched by what she witnessed.

“It is so heartwarming to see the community here to officially open Kale’s Memorial Splash Park. It has been 936 days since we were approached to build something in the community in his honor,” Karla told the crowd. “It has been years of planning, sharing ideas, and building this into a place where everyone can make memories and share smiles. This project has become a part of our daily lives for the past year. What has been so remarkable is the way the entire community has been embracing it. Everyone has given without hesitation. 

“This week alone while getting spray paint at a local store. They said if it’s for the splash part, it’s on us. Last Wednesday was a trying day when we weren’t sure production would finish in time. The ice rink still needed to be painted before testing. We were so grateful to a group of volunteers who are visiting Market in the Park and so to see its progress with a quick phone call a local business showed up with paint and supplies. And it became a work bee until dark so can be joined on time. Thank you. This is what you call community spirit.”

She singled out two people who she said daily worked diligently on getting the park going including Nathan Pahl and Chantel Timmons.

Ryan Thurston, one of those who co-chaired the project, held the honour of being master of ceremonies at the July 16 ceremony at Centennial Park. He was also extremely proud.

“So when I was looking around, thinking about what to say about this park and and what it means to the community, I came across a quote that stood out to me and it said ‘the greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate impact of its members.’ This (splash park) is the best representation possible of the magnitude of greatness in this community. We’re so full of compassionate people in this community. And we take action. We put our heads down and just do stuff and it’s phenomenal.  To see the amount of support that comes out when something needs to be done. Little almost three years ago was when we first started thinking about this last part. We floated around ideas of building something for Kale to honor Kale. In the last three years, I can’t even imagine the amount of hours that have been spent in this project. We obviously don’t have time to thank everybody that gave a piece of themselves to this.

“One of the ideas that was brought up was the Farmers and Friends for Kale initiative. Basically everybody that every person or organization that donated $500 or more was to be recognized at this park in some way. If you get a chance to look at our donor board, our donor tree, you can see just how impactful that initiative was. We had such a great turnout. It really was overwhelming. Of the hundreds of names I’m sure on that tree, there are a few leaves that that require some very special attention. Tom Droog, Fortis and Varekamp families have continually been supporters of this community and they didn’t hold back this time. They stepped up huge and we were really blessed with the support that they’ve given us. So thank you to them.”

Mayor Gordon Reynolds expressed his heartfelt thanks and pride of his community to come together to get the project completed, from local individuals to the contractors and all the workers who got the project completed. 

He thanked Fortis and their diligence and also the Troy Loney Charitable Golf Association.

“You know this this the fundraiser was supposed to happen in 2020 and he didn’t because of the pandemic. That group made a very responsible business decision to hold off for a year because of the state of everything, the economy and everything else. But they went ahead with that that fundraiser in September of this last year,” Reynolds told the crowd. “The leadership of this committee, this time was being co chaired by Ryan and Craig Couillard, (Charity Golf Classic’s original chair). Craig told me that ‘you know, Gordon I think we’ll be able to raise a couple hundred thousand. That’s a lot of money.’ 

“‘Craig that’s the biggest one you’ve ever done.’ Well, Craig was wrong. … And that goes to credit it goes to the community as a whole individuals small businesses, large businesses, large donors, like Ryan (Thurston) just talked about. It’s just absolutely amazing the kind of support that has come out for this financially and then we get down to actually getting it done.”

The park is open but the fence will remain for a while/ Thurston noted there is brand new sod and wanted people to be careful with it.

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