Iconic Ogopogo sculpture expected to get new digs

Ogopogo may move, the Sails sculpture will get an overhaul and a new stage could be planted in an area more conducive to live shows

A new stage may be built in Kerry Park for 2019

Ogopogo may move, the Sails sculpture will get an overhaul and a new stage could be planted in an area more conducive to live shows.

Those are just a few of the plans for Kerry Park that city council gave preliminarily approval to on Monday.

The park, which is at the foot of Bernard Avenue, is a city focal point and there’s been a longstanding expectation that it would be upgraded in the year ahead.

With developments like the Westcorp hotel and the Tourism Centre yet to get underway, however, city staff have hitched their  $3.8-million makeover plans to 2019 for better synergy with all the components, said city parks planner Andrew Gibbs.

The aim, once everything starts to fall into place, is to build up Kerry Park as though it’s the city’s living room, pulling inspiration taken from the area’s nautical and cultural heritage, as well as its views of the lakes and mountains.

“It is a community landmark and focal point, a gathering place for both active and passive activities, and is used by every demographic group in the city,” says city parks planner Andrew Gibbs.

While there are plans for landscaping and seating, the park redesign plan also addresses a few community landmarks, such as the Ogopogo.

“It’s a touchstone to visitors and it has been for decades —so it stays,” said Gibbs.  “But we are looking at relocating it.”

The relocation is for the sake of better “people flow” in the area, and the Ogopogo’s new home will be closer to the Queensway jetty, where the proposed Tourism Centre will go.

This plan, Coun. Charlie Hodge, warned would likely be met with some community opposition.

“Hell hath no fury like an Ogopogo changed,”  Hodge said. “We will get more flack for moving Ogopogo than you will believe.”

Changes to another symbolic sculpture are expected to be less controversial.

The fountain around the Sails sculpture is going to get a redo, as it’s currently leaky. Gibbs said the artist, Robert Dow Reid, has been consulted to see if the plans jive well with what he initially envisioned.

“The sails plaza important,” said Gibbs. “It’s the front door to our mains street and the historic front door to our lake. “

The stage that’s currently in the park will also move to somewhere more conducive to more shows.

The overall plan won over council members.

“I love this plan, I think it’s tremendous,” said Mayor Colin Basran.

The approach to the park’s upgrades is to re-develop the park as a modern city park that will accommodate the community’s future needs and aspirations.

The design has a wide variety of opportunities for events, group gatherings, social connections and individual reflection.