A new playground is set to slide into Ucluelet’s Village Green and residents swung by the area last week to pitch their ideas for what it should look like.
The district is working with consulting company Lanarc to revitalize the area and replace the current playground, which consists of a slide, one baby swing and one regular swing.
“Right now honestly, it’s pretty wide open. We’re very early in the process of designing the space so right now we just want to get community input for what they want to see here,” Lanarc landscape architect and project manager Pieter Van Remoortere told the Westerly News at an open house held at the green on Aug. 17.
“Without the community input, it won’t really fit into the space, it won’t be for the community, it would just be one individual’s thoughts. So, to gather that community input and feedback is the most important step in the beginning of the process.”
He added that a wide array of suggestions have come in including climbing towers, log scrambles, slides and swings.
“Pretty much the full gamut,” he said. “Anything to really capture a kids’ creativity and interest is worth its weight in gold. A lot of times that could be classified as unique, but it’s just something that is different or inspiring or captivating really is what we’re looking for.”
He encourages anyone hoping to get their input in to fill out an online questionnaire at www.ucluelet.ca/villagegreen. The deadline to submit input is Sept. 9.
“The more feedback we get, the better the end result will ultimately be,” he said.
The current playground space will effectively double in size, pushing into the current district staff parking lot and the work is part of the district’s $1.2 million Village Green Revitalization project. Whilst some elements of that project have faced significant public criticism, most notably the removal of roughly 25 parking spots, the playground upgrade is being cheered by parents and youth.
Ten-year-old Finley Butler-Parent was busy drawing what she’d like to see at the new playground as she told the Westerly that she’s “very excited“ to see the current barebones park transform into a more robust playspace.
“There has to be more swings so that everyone can swing together instead of just waiting turns and watching in envy your friends going on while waiting,” she said.
She said she’d also like to see a tube slide, zipline, climbing rope pods, adding that she was thankful for the opportunity to provide input.
“I get to be a part of it and I like that because I get to have a say in it and I get to know that my ideas have been taken in,” she said.
Seven-year-old Christy Moore said she’s excited to see more activities to enjoy in the area.
“I think it’s an amazing idea,” she said. “Playgrounds are super fun and this playground is a bit small and I want some more equipment here and for it to be bigger.”
Eleven-year-old Shanti Grimshire said she hopes to see more activities for her and her friends included in the final project.
“I feel like the playground now is a bit more for the younger kids, so I’d like a bit more for the older kids too,” she said, suggesting a treefort, zipline, in-ground trampolines and an obstacle course would be solid additions. “I feel like right now there’s just not a lot of things to do at the playground.”
Local mother of two Faye Missar was happy to share her ideas about improving the space.
“I think they’ve got great ideas on the public feedback form, a lot of sculptural and natural elements, climbing walls, swings and it’s going to be great. I have high hopes,” she said.
She added she’s hoping to see a zipline included in the final design as well as a water station and public washrooms.
“Lots of people complain about people using the bushes as the washroom, but if there’s no place for them to use the washroom, such as no public washroom, where do you expect them to use the washroom when they have to go?” she said.
Britt Buirs said she and her 18-month old son Sawyer frequent the playground and she’s looking forward to seeing new equipment that he can grow into.
“Trampolines and ziplines sound fun and would be something he’ll grow into as he grows and lives in this beautiful place,” she said. “Somewhere that he can come to as a safe place to play in his neighbourhood is really important for us.”
She added she’d like to see earthy structures that blend into the surroundings and is also hoping the marine nature of the area will be highlighted, suggesting a potential viewing platform for kids to watch boats in the nearby harbour.
Elyse Goatcher-Bergmann attended the event with her 14-month-old son Mac and said a new playground is needed.
“In the centre of our town, it’s such an opportunity for families of all ages to get together in one space and I love that about this location,” she said. “I also love that it’s an opportunity for placemaking to welcome people to what Ucluelet is. Like the street signs that we’re doing with Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, I think this is just another opportunity to showcase what Ucluelet is about while giving a sweet play space to our kids because this little playground is definitely lacking.”
She added she takes Mac to the Lions Park playground on Norah St. and Cynamocka Rd. nearly everyday and that playgrounds offer important connections for kids and parents.
“We meet other families there, he learned to walk there, it’s so important to have an outside space for the adults in the house too,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of people at the park and they’ve become close friends to me and Mac.”
She added she hopes the Village Green space will become uniquely local.
“I really look forward to seeing how we can make it really Ucluelet. A unique Ucluelet playground would be really cool to see,” she said.
Local mom Lisa Moore noted the Village Green playground is in a popular, high traffic area and she hopes to see safety improvements to keep kids and vehicles separate.
“There’s too many escape routes on this playground now. Children can run off in several areas and you can’t see them,” she said. “It’s a great location, but there’s traffic coming and lots happening so it would be nice if there was enhanced safety.”
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