Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pride, Heart, and Community - Shell Place and MacDonald Island Park

There is something about being there for the beginning of a new adventure. There is something special about all that, about seeing it come from idea to plan to reality. There is something unique, and wonderful. And there is something about it when it ties together things in your life in some deep way.

When I first moved to this community eleven years ago one of the first places we went that fall was MacDonald Island Park to register the Intrepid Junior Blogger for preschool skating. She was just three, and had tiny little hands and a tiny little face and tiny little skates. And while she was tiny MacDonald Island Park was pretty tiny, too, just one rink and some curling surfaces.

And then MacDonald Island Park began to grow, just as the IJB did. She moved on to Canskate, and eventually to the early stages of competitive figure skating while MacDonald Island Park moved on to an expansion that would encompass an aquatic centre, more ice surfaces, a fitness centre, a library, and more. And almost every day we began to find ourselves there, her at the rink, me at the fitness centre, and both of us at the library.

Last year I had the honour of representing community stakeholders when MacDonald Island Park presented their next expansion plans to RMWB Council. I spoke about the value the new expansion would bring, and how the community not only needed it but welcomed it. I spoke about the vibrancy and energy of a young community full of children and families, and I spoke about how just as the IJB was growing so too was our community, and our Island.

I had no idea then that I would one day work for MacDonald Island Park, or that I would become so deeply attached to that expansion, now named Shell Place. On the day I spoke to RMWB council I was committed to that expansion, though, because I knew the value it would bring. And last Friday I got to witness an incredibly exciting moment when the first piece of steel was raised in the new Shell Place field house.

I do work at MacDonald Island Park now, and one of my jobs is helping to bring Shell Place to life for this community. This is more than a job for me, though. It's a passion, because I remember what MacDonald Island Park was like eleven years ago. I remember what it was like just after the Suncor Community Leisure Centre opened years later and I walked through those doors the first time. I remember my awe, and my excitement at seeing the new aquatic centre and all the other pieces of the puzzle, and I remember the IJB's face. I remember seeing her amazement. And my passion is to one day see that face again when she walks into Shell Place for the very first time. It is to feel the way I felt that day, and it is to see this community have the opportunity to enjoy a place that will truly reflect who we are. Innovative. Bold. Creative. Fearless. Fun. Energetic. Vibrant. And, most of all, a community.

Seeing the steel rise on Shell Place was not only an exciting moment for me but a proud one. I have been there from the beginning, although at the start I was just a member of the community. And to now be here in this journey of my life, this journey of MacDonald Island Park, the journey of this community? Well, that's a tough one to put into words. Pride doesn't quite cover it. Maybe the only word to cover it adequately is "heart", because that is what MacDonald Island Park has come to mean to me over the years. And for me this moment on Friday? Well, I guess I would say our community heart grew - and mine almost burst with pride, because when that steel beam went up I saw the future. And this time I was a very real part of it.

Shell Place Steel Piece Placement Photos

The "usual suspects" ;) with the steel in the background.

First steel beam lifted into place.

Work begins to secure the steel.

And this is perhaps the most amazing photo for me.
Mere hours after the first steel piece I went outside again -
and found this.
This is Shell Place,
coming to life.

Shell Place time lapse
construction video...

And the future Shell Place...

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