Tofino’s district office is hoping to score a grant to replace the aging playground at the Tofino Village Green. (Photo - Tofino parks and Recreation)

Tofino needs votes to score playground grant

“We want to have a Village Green that’s fun and safe and exciting for our community.”

Tofino’s Parks and Recreation department has its eyes on a $160,000 playground replacement for the Village Green and is hoping the West Coast can rock an online vote hard enough to get them halfway there.

The district has applied for an $80,000 grant from the Aviva Community Fund to help kickstart the new playground’s development and, in order to score that grant, Tofino’s application must receive enough votes to make it into the top 35 of 541 other projects.

“The Tofino Village Green is the heart of Tofino,” said the district’s Manager of Community Sustainability Aaron Rodgers. “You see people of all ages there, playing basketball or skateboarding or playing pickleball or taking their grandkids to the park.”

After registering at www.avivacommunityfund.org, locals can vote up to 18 times and can choose to spread their votes over a variety of projects, or pour them all into one. Voting closes on Oct. 19 and, once the top 35 are selected, a panel of judges will determine the winners.

“We really believe in community engagement,” company spokesperson Priscilla Wong told the Westerly. “We really want the community to come together and for them to choose for themelves and have a say in what ideas and what projects would really help them. Getting the community involved and getting their voice in there was really important to us.”

Aviva Canada is one of Canada’s largest insurance providers and its Community Fund has dished out roughly $75 million to over 250 charities and community groups across Canada since its inception in 2009, according to the company’s website.

“We are beyond excited for voting to begin and to see these amazing ideas become a reality,” said Aviva Canada’s senior vice president of marketing Debora Hendrickson. “We want to thank all idea submitters for their commitment to positive change. Each of the 541 ideas submitted is proof of how much Canadians care about their community needs.”

Tofino’s application suggests the proposed new playground will boast a uniquely Tofitian aesthetic while promoting risk-taking, accessibility and education.

“Our new park will maintain the eclectic character of Tofino by using west coast design elements, encourage local residents to interact, increase access to recreational opportunities for the First Nations population and support families by developing Tofino to be a healthy community. We are looking to design a park that is made out of natural elements and sparks excitement in both children and adults,” it reads.

“Building on Tofino’s notoriety as a spectacular coastal destination, we would like to design a park that mimics a tidal pool. Tidal pools are an integral part of our ecosystem; gathering places for a wide variety of sea and land creatures. The inhabitants of tidal pools are hardy creatures, able to deal with frequently changing environments and fluctuating temperatures, much like the inhabitants of Tofino.”

Rodgers said the current Village Green playground is roughly 20 years old and is reaching the end of its life.

“We want to have a Village Green that’s fun and safe and exciting for our community, especially for our children and, either we pay for that through fundraising, or through taxation or through grants,” he said. “Instead of going back to the taxpayer for funds, we’re looking outside the district for grants and, hopefully, we’re successful. Please go and vote because it will ensure that your taxes remain at a reasonable level and that you’re children are active and have an amazing time at the Tofino Village Green.”

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