Baawitigong, or the place now known as Sault Ste. Marie, has for millennia been a gathering place and home for Indigenous peoples, and more recently, for settlers and immigrants to North America. People of diverse cultures and heritage have always come here to enjoy and share its nature, resources and opportunities.
What's key in creating a place people love to live in? Yes, things like water, sewers, power, public safety and snow removal are services essential to quality of life. But what about well designed and maintained parks and recreational facilities, or spaces for arts, culture and heritage?
Parks, recreation, arts, culture and heritage all bring together people and groups from all walks of life. These are places where residents can engage with each other, make new friends, and participate or volunteer in their community. These are events that contribute to community pride, making people proud to call Sault Ste. Marie home. Some great local examples include Rotaryfest, Bon Soo, Hub Trail Festival, Pridefest, Sault Ste. Marie Museum, our Public Library, and many, many more.
These places and events can also serve as a bridge between residents and community supports, where people can go for assistance for things like employment, child care and health services. The result for all of us - youth and seniors, long-time residents and newcomers alike - is a stronger feeling that we all belong here.
The City is proposing Locally Significant Heritage Areas to recognize and reinforce the character of some of our historic neighbourhoods: Pim Hill, Simpson Leo Upton McGregor, Lower Pim, Monterey Gardens and Downtown Queen Street.
Cities across North America have looked to recreation and culture as tools to revitalize places and stimulate economies. Today's world relies on a mobile workforce, and people like young professionals will often move to, stay and invest in places offering a high quality of life.
Attractive parks, like the Sault’s Bellevue Park, can raise property values and expand the local tax base. Historic places like the Bushplane Centre, Downtown Queen Street, and the Ermatinger Clergue (Old Stone House) and Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Sites attract visitors and act as economic anchors. Opportunities and spaces for celebrating and showcasing arts and culture, such as the Art Gallery of Algoma, Algoma Fall Festival and Fringe North, boost community pride and can also bring tourism, jobs and economic activity.
Did you know that some heritage sites in Sault Ste. Marie play key environmental roles? The historic Queen Street courthouse is a nesting site for chimney swifts, a protected threatened species. The Simpson Leo Upton McGregor (S.L.U.M.) area is home to some heritage trees over 100 years old.
Parks of all sizes help maintain a healthy natural environment, and at the same time provide spaces for physical activity to help us maintain our health. A perfect example of combining parks with human health is the Outdoor Fitness Centre at Clergue Park. Of course, the Sault also has Conservation Areas like Fort Creek and Hiawatha Highlands that are well-used for recreation but also provide natural habitat for wildlife.
As climate change brings more intense weather events, our parks can mitigate damage by absorbing storm and flood water. Interestingly, many of the Sault's flood channels are used by residents as recreational walking trails.
The Sault has a total of 74 City-owned parks, equipped with playgrounds, tennis courts, ice rinks, bocce, pickleball and more! We also have great privately-owned recreational spaces, like Kinsmen Park and the YMCA.
Are our community parks and facilities meeting the interests of Saultites of all ages and abilities, today and tomorrow? Is anything missing?
Can we better serve and help grow the Sault's arts and culture communities through the way we design and regulate development in our city?
What do the Sault's heritage neighbourhoods, buildings and sites mean to you? How can we better recognize or protect them?