Improvements on the way for Weyburn's Therapeutic Animal Park

Following a busy year at the Therapeutic Animal Park, the volunteer board of directors have planned out a series of upgrades and improvements to make at the park, to make it better for the animals and for the visitors.

The group held their annual meeting on Thursday evening at the Weyburn Credit Union’s community room, and are keeping the same board members for the coming year.

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The projects include replacing the fencing for all of the animals pens in the park, and JW Landscaping has been hired to carry out this work this spring, with the hopes it will be finished by the end of May.

This project will cost the park about $26,000 to be done, said president Sara Lawrence, and the park board will be sending out sponsorship letters to businesses along with applying for grants from various organization, including the Prairie Sky Co-op and the Weyburn Credit Union, and parks organizations.

One of the ways they would like to recognize any sponsors who step up is to have an annual sponsors billboard made by Protouch Signs that will be prominently displayed at the park to let people know who helped to sponsor the park for the year.

“The park’s opening day may be delayed, depending on how long the fencing will take,” said Lawrence, noting that some of the work has begun. Once the spring thaw sets in, the weather will then dictate if the work can be done by the end of May.

If the work is done on time, then the park will have an opening in early June with an opening barbecue, like they did last year.

The other big need for the park to operate is for volunteers to step up and help take care of the animals or do cleanup around the park. The number and kinds of animals they will have will depend in part on how many volunteers they can get, said Lawrence.

She noted last year a number of groups volunteered during the year along with individuals, such as Canadian Mental Health Association, Group Homes, and the SERVE youth from Calvary Baptist as some examples.

“We’re always looking for new organizations to partner with. We need to know how many volunteers are in place before we know how many animals to bring in,” she said.

“We’ll be trying to get them in place soon,” added Sarah Richaud, animal manager. “No experience is necessary.”

Other members of the board include Vince Sheldon, media director; secretary Angie Braat; vice-president Melanie Ror; and Carley Istace, member at large.

Financially, the animal park had a good year for donations, with their spring fundraiser bringing in $1,434, donations totaling $17,086, the donations bin had $759, and sponsorships brought in $650.

The total revenues for 2019 were $20,005, and minus expenses of $5,034 (such as for animal feed, vet expenses, insurance and maintenance) leaving them with $17,015 in the bank at the end of their season.

Some of the other projects and upgrades the board hopes to get done this year include replacing the pumps for the ponds, a roof for the rabbit structure, converting the pumphouse into a chicken coop, replacing outdated playground equipment, and creating a gazebo and picnic area in the central area of the park.