City holds official opening of RBJ Schlegel Park in southwest Kitchener

Caleb Connolly celebrated his third birthday with a trip to the playground at the RBJ Schlegel Park at 1664 Huron Road in Kitchener. While children have been enjoying the play area for a while, the City of Kitchener held the official opening on September 9.  Photos by Helen Hall
by Helen Hall
Kitchener Citizen
September 16, 2020

​Ron Schlegel’s philanthropic family donates money to causes across Ontario, but he says it is always “easy” to do it in Kitchener.

​“Kitchener has a feeling of community that is different,” Schlegel said at the official opening of Phase One of RBJ Schlegel Park, a 42-acre recreational facility on Huron Road on September 9. He believes it comes from the local barn-raising spirit. “Kitchener has an ethos that is different and palpable.”

​RBJ Schlegel Holdings Inc. donated $2.3-million to the construction of Kitchener’s second largest park, which is the largest sponsorship agreement in Kitchener’s history. The company is a family business that focuses on urban development and seniors' care. McLennan Park on Ottawa Street South is Kitchener’s largest recreational facility.

​Representatives of the City of Kitchener and local MPs and MPPs made remarks at the opening, surrounded by children digging in the sand and climbing on equipment, who were oblivious to what was going on around them.

​Phase One of the park includes two artificial turf soccer fields, two playgrounds geared toward younger and older children, and a splash pad. A cricket pitch and a natural turf field are complete and will be available next year.

​Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said RBJ Schlegel Park was built to be sustainable, including 9,000 square metres of rain gardens, infiltration galleries and bioswales that will save millions of litres of water in a year. To help with this cost, Kitchener received $750,000 from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, of which Vrbanovic is a former president.

“While parks provide recreation and leisure, they serve as much more,” Vrbanovic said, noting that they are a gathering place, and add to the city’s tree canopy, which helps prevent climate change.

​Kitchener Councillor Kelly Galloway-Sealock has waited a long time for the park in her ward. She said the plans for the park started in the late 1990s. As some of the facilities began to open this summer, she said the “kids have been coming here in droves.”

​Phase two is expected to be completed next year and will include tennis, pickleball and basketball courts. Work is also expected to be completed next summer on the changeroom/washroom in the heritage building on the site.

​“We truly have a jewel here at RBJ Schlegel Park,” said Galloway-Sealock.

​Phase three of the park will include a swimming pool and is dependent on fundraising. The city is undecided about whether an arena while be located at this park, and is studying whether ice needs can be met at it’s existing facilities. The building with the swimming pool could include an indoor soccer field instead.
City holds official opening of RBJ Schlegel Park in southwest Kitchener
Members of the Schlegel family received a framed print of the design of RBJ Schlegel Park at the official grand opening of Phase one of the park on September 9. The Schlegels donated $2.3-million to the park, the largest sponsorship in Kitchener’s history. From left: James Schlegel, Barb and Ron Schlegel, and Rob Schlegel.
Representatives from the municipal, provincial and federal governments attended the official opening of Phase one of RBJ Schlegel Park on Huron Road in Kitchener. Standing in the playground that features a flexible rubber flooring are, from left: Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris, Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis, RBJ Schlegel President James Schlegel, and Ward 5 councillor Kelly Galloway-Sealock with her son Logan Sealock.
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