Tofino gets $25K grant to create seniors-friendly park

The district of Tofino has received $25,000 from the Federal Government to put towards an age friendly park and that means an upgrade is in store for Centennial Park.

Roslyn Newman served as a consultant for Tofino’s Age Friendly Plan and when her work led her to discover the grant through the government’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, she encouraged the district to apply.

The district did so and about eight months later Tofino is $25,000 richer.

Tofino’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers told the Westerly News Centennial Park has been pegged as the location for the age friendly park’s installation.

“We have Centennial Park which we haven’t done much to over the last number of years so we thought perhaps this would be an ideal time for us to start thinking about how we could develop a bit of an age friendly component to that park,” he said.

He said the district will look to its seniors for direction on what the park should look like.

“We’re going to go over some of the options that we have and what exactly they would be looking for,” he said. “It’s going to be stakeholder driven.”

Up for discussion will be whether trails could ease access, what types of activity or exercise equipment would be attractive and whether a covered area would be a benefit.

“We only have this limited amount of money, which is not really that much money in the large scheme of building parks,” he said. “We may not be able to do everything that we want, so we want to find out what will work best for seniors so that they can feel comfortable accessing the park and it’s a place they want to go.”

He hopes public consultation will commence in May in order to have work started by the summer and the park completed by the fall.

“We have a fairly aggressive timeline,” he said adding part of the government’s funding is earmarked for a celebration to mark the park’s opening.

“We would like to be able to do that while it’s still nice outside,” he said.

The district is hoping to draw from its volunteer base for support and also plans to kick off local fundraising efforts to help supplement the government’s funds.

Outside of monetary donations, locals can get behind the new park’s installation through donations of time, materials, labour, or food for the grand-opening event.

Rodgers suggested other grants could be pursued to boost the park’s potential.

“We’re always looking for grants in our department,” he said. “We have explored options and will continue to do so.”

He believes the new park could become a solid generator of intergenerational interaction. “It’s important to get people out and active and part of the age friendly plan was to support our seniors and we think this may be one way where we could have an opportunity for seniors and youth to mix and play bocce together,” he said.

Anyone wanting to help out with the project, or provide input into what the park should look like, is encouraged to contact Laura Lunty at recreation@tofino.ca or 725-3229.

reporter@westerlynews.ca