On August 10, MP Francis Drouin announced on behalf of Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly that the federal government would be providing $196,931 for the Jonathan Pitre Park project. The money is offered under the Canadian Community Revitalization Fund (FRCC) and will cover 70% of the park’s construction cost.
Jonathan Pitre Park will be situated in a currently unused lot beside the sports complex. It will be an accessible outdoor play and exercise space that provides physical activity opportunities for people with mobility concerns. It will expand the usable outdoor space beside the sports complex by 10% and will be a safe place for residents to gather, socialize, and engage in physical activity.
The park is named for Jonathan Pitre from Russell, ON. He was born with a rare genetic mutation called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB), which causes external and internal blistering across the body. After an interview with the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, he became an ambassador for DEBRA Canada, a charity that raises support and awareness of EB.
During his time with DEBRA, he participated in several fundraising activities to raise money for DEBRA. The Ottawa Senators made him an honorary scout in 2014 and invited him to the 2015 NHL awards in Las Vegas. The Ontario Ball Hockey Association (OBHA) held a tournament in his honour and donated part of the entry fee to DERBA Canada. He also addressed the crowd at 2015 We Day in Ottawa. Unfortunately, Pitre passed away on Apr 4, 2018 at the age of 17.
The Jonathan Pitre Park is dedicated to his memory. It will join Riverside South’s Jonathan Pitre Catholic Elementary School and the Ottawa Senator development camp’s Jonathan Pitre award in remembering him and his accomplishments. He was and continues to be an inspiration.