In 1967, the Town of St. Paul’s citizens threw around a spacey idea to build a UFO landing pad, an out-of-this-world concept that, along with other ambitious projects to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday, resulted in the town being named Canada’s Centennial Star.
Launching into hyperspace nearly 50 years later, the Town of St. Paul’s Champions for Change members wanted to come up with something that would be equally amazing, Linda Sallstrom and Penny Fox told Town of St. Paul council at its Monday, Aug. 8 meeting.
“Like we usually do, we looked at (local artist and member Herman Poulin) and said, ‘Hey Herman, you must have an idea.’ And – he did,” Fox said with a chuckle. “So we are here tonight to unveil the Children of The Sun project that Champions for Change would like to see happen in St. Paul.”
“After 50 years, it’s time for us to go from the landing pad to go to the solar system,” said Poulin, adding later that now, instead of just having a UFO landing pad to showcase universal acceptance – “It’s us, we have to go walk and meet the universe.”
The group pulled off a sheet to unveil an 85 inch-long walking path, that winds its way through an accordion book that delves into the solar system, the sun and its planets, that Champions for Change is seeking to build by applying for a Canada 150 grant through the federal government.
Poulin said he had originally seen the accordion book and felt the desire to be able to walk through it, which is what gave him the idea for the project that he called a “magnificent extension” of the town’s landing pad.
Other displays could touch on meteor showers, eclipses, space exploration, northern lights and more, he said, adding, “It’s going to be a very, very educational, interactive, ‘participaction’ type monument.”
With each inch of the model representing an actual foot, the project would be about 85 feet in length, while stretching 14 to maximum 18 ft. wide. The panels would have perforations in it, to allow daylight or lighting to stream through to give the illusion of stars.
Sallstrom said that the project fulfilled a few goals, including boosting tourism and complementing the landing pad, educating people and perhaps bringing school trips and visits to the site, and getting people walking and being active.
Fox said that the group had checked with local businesses and estimated the project to cost about $334,000, which included the panels, the painting, the glass walkway and a cement pad. The quote also included an $80,000 valuation on land, with the group asking the town to supply a site, preferably on the east end of town by the Iron Horse Staging area and along the town’s walking trail.
While Coun. Ken Kwiatkowski said he found it too bad that there wasn’t room to create space for the monument by the landing pad, Fox and Sallstrom said their goal was to bring people and visitors throughout the town.
Poulin said with his penchant for dreaming big, he could even envision asking Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield to come and give a concert at the opening of the monument, should it be built and opened – as the group hoped – by September of 2017.
“Wow, I’m blown away people,” said Coun. Don Padlesky. “That’s ingenuity.”
“You never cease to amaze,” added Coun. Dwight Wiebe. “In 1967, they wanted to wow. This is definitely a wow, Herman.”
Council agreed to find the land for the project, as well as provide site preparation and maintenance, noting they would have to consult with North East Muni-Corr to make sure the project could be done at the proposed site, with respect to allowing for the 90 ft.-plus right-of-way for the Iron Horse Trail.