Pitre, also known as the “Butterfly Boy”, was a Russell resident born with epidermolysis bullosa, a condition that makes skin fragile and prone to blisters. He helped spread awareness of the condition across Canada before his death in 2018 at the age of 17.
The township had originally applied for a grant to build the accessible park as part of a multi-use recreation complex in 2019, but the application was rejected. Instead, council approved funding in the 2021 budget for both the park and the wider complex near the existing Russell Sports Dome in Embrun.
The administration was expected to bring a report before the council to propose recommendations on specific works at the site in 2021. A sign would also be erected at the site to inform residents of the plan to name the park after Pitre.
The new park would be the first place named after Pitre in his hometown, but would add to numerous other places and events dedicated to him. A Catholic elementary school in Ottawa bears his name, as does an Ottawa Senators development camp award, which was handed out to the hardest working players.
The decision was made after council deferred a motion by Councillor Cindy Saucier early last month to name the Emrbun dog park after Pitre and his Boston Terrier, Gibson. At the time, the council agreed to move any decision on honouring Pitre to the budget working sessions, when funding could be allocated to the project.