Viking Park Contract Awarded to Shelmerdine Ltd.

The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba is pleased to announce that local fundraising efforts have helped enable the creation of Viking Park. Shelmerdine Ltd. has been awarded the contract to build the park and will begin work later this month.

In partnership with Betel Home Foundation and the R.M. of Gimli, the Festival and project supporters are creating a park that celebrates Gimli’s spirit and will contribute to its growing tourism industry. Showcasing the iconic Viking statue, the park will begin at 2nd Avenue and extend to the foot of Harbour Hill. With its Elf and Troll Storm Gardens, Breakwater Garden and runic puzzles, Viking Park will provide a unique Icelandic experience in Canada.

Although fundraising efforts are ongoing, local enthusiasm for the project has inspired the Festival to move forward with construction. Shelmerdine Ltd. will be onsite later this month to begin work on the park. Viking Park will officially open at noon on Saturday, August 5th during the 128th Islendingadagurinn.

Tim Arnason, a member of the 125 Legacy Project Campaign Cabinet, says the Festival is thrilled by the community’s response to the recent Pathway Stones campaign.

“We raised over $400,000 this winter,” Arnason says. “About half of these funds came from Gimli residents. We will all enjoy seeing their personal tributes on the recognition features in the park.”

Shelmerdine Ltd. was awarded the contract to create the park earlier this year. While no bids were received from local businesses, Shelmerdine Ltd. will seek to involve the community in a variety of ways, including renting equipment, purchasing materials and hiring workers.

“We plan to involve as many local companies as possible to build this beautiful park,” says Bo Wohlers, President of Shelmerdine Ltd.

The local schools are commemorating Canada’s 150th by authoring unique inscriptions on large pathway stones gifted to them by the Festival.

“Gimli schools are honoured to be given the opportunity to take part in a project that not only commemorates the 150th birthday of Canada, but also pays special tribute to the role Icelandic settlers and Indigenous people played in the development of our community and from which many staff and students owe their ancestry,” says Jim Gibbs, Principal, Dr. George Johnson Middle School.

The Festival’s fundraising committee has raised $915,000 in cash and pledges and is close to the $1 million required to create the main components of the first phase of the park and replenish the Festival’s reserve funds. Interest raised through the reserve helps the Festival promote Icelandic culture and heritage by offering family-friendly events at low or no cost during the annual four-day festival.

Because some donations are coming in as pledges over time, the Festival will require bridge funding to build the park, which is being provided at very low interest through the generosity of an anonymous donor.

“There is still ample opportunity to contribute to a project that reflects the unique spirit and ancestry of Gimli,” Arnason says. Donations raised between now and August 1 2017 will be inscribed on recognition pieces in time for the 129th Islendingadagurinn. “We need to raise another $100,000 to complete phase one of the campaign.”