In 2015, through the efforts of the Age Friendly Advisory Committee, a successful UBCM grant application and a generous donation by the Kiwanis Club, an outdoor fitness facility with new pathway was installed in the south end of the park. Among several other actions such as seating, lighting and washroom upgrades, the OPRS Park Improvement Plan published in 2015 recommends three additional long range capital projects in Lion’s Park: a new off-leash dog park in the north end, upgrades to the Joel Waines Memorial Skatepark, and a new nature-based playground to complete the development in the south end of the park.
During the 2017 budget process the Society designated $100,000 of capital funds for improvements at Lion’s Park. As all the proposed projects support the organization’s strategic goals and would increase community use of the park, the funds were left undesignated until this spring with the intention of choosing a project based on current community need, project readiness, cost and immediate benefit to the local population.
At the April 18 regular meeting of the Society, Manager Carol Sheridan presented concepts and an outline of benefits and challenges for each project which were discussed at length. Some of the greatest concerns raised were related to the current state of the skate park, which is showing major signs of wear and tear after 17 years of use, and to the negative impact the current location of the off-leash dog area is having on the ball diamonds and operations of Community Park. The positive community fundraising efforts for the new Community Park toddler playground project in conjunction with the recent discovery of plans for a new nature-based play space at Tuc El Nuit Elementary made the timing of a new playground in the south end of Lion’s Park less of a priority based on current community need.
The Society passed a resolution at the April 18 meeting to focus the capital funds earmarked in the 2017 budget on the revitalization of the skate park and to the feasibility of transferring the location of the off-leash dog area to the north end of Lion’s Park. The new concept for the skate park proposes the removal of some older, unsafe features and the creation of an expanded, updated “small-wheels playground” with additional “street style” features that would give a more accessible and fun space to play in for children, youth and adults who like to skate, scoot and bike. “I feel that the community has created many places for people to recreate, however the older children and teens do not currently have a safe place to hang out that doesn’t have a cost attached to it,” said OPRS Director Helene Urcullu. “Skate parks offer a greater number of healthy outdoor athletic choices where youth can work on their skills for free”. The total cost of the project is budgeted at $220,000. Fundraising efforts have already begun through various grants including an application to the BCAA Play Here contest, and Recreation Manager Carol Sheridan is hoping that the greater community will throw their support behind the project to make it a reality. “I am very pleased that the Society has listened to the needs of our youth and are willing to invest in increasing their social and physical activity opportunities and give them a renewed sense of pride in their community,” says Sheridan. The local kids who want this small wheels park are ready to roll up their sleeves to help raise money, but they will not be able to do it alone.”
Recreation staff will be working with the Town of Oliver to determine the feasibility of changing the Animal Control Bylaw to designate an off-leash dog area in Lion’s Park and will be costing out the fencing and other amenities required.
Comments from the public regarding either project are welcomed and can be forwarded to email@example.com. Anyone wishing to assist with the Small Wheels Playground project is asked to contact Carol Sheridan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-498-4985.