ACTIVE LIFE: Family loves Nanaimo's outdoor spaces

Liam Clift, 2, navigates his way along interwoven ropes on the playground equipment at Oliver Woods Community Centre. It’s one of his family’s favourite parks to go explore in the summertime. - Rachel Stern photo
Liam Clift, 2, navigates his way along interwoven ropes on the playground equipment at Oliver Woods Community Centre. It’s one of his family’s favourite parks to go explore in the summertime.
— image credit: Rachel Stern photo

With so many beautiful parks to choose from in Nanaimo, the Clift family doesn’t limit themselves to visiting just one a day.

The family likes to park hop.

“I like to get outside as much as we can,” said Tricia Clift.

Last week she visited Oliver Woods Community Centre with her two-year-old son, Liam. It was a scorcher that day and the pair also planned to head to Neck Point Park so the toddler could enjoy some time on the beach with some shady trees to keep him cool.

Going to more than one park is typical for them. Family favourites includes Bowen, Beban (Altrusa), Forest Drive, Gyro parks and others.

“Beban is his favourite. He has a little scooter he rides and he likes to run around and drive as fast as he can,” said Clift. “I find myself being quite a bit more active since we had Liam.”

The family likes Beban Park because it has places for younger children separated from the play areas for older children.

Clift said she loves to take her son to parks to interact with other kids because he is an only child and it gives him a chance to learn socialization skills.

In the winter and spring he is enrolled in the Strong Start program but it doesn’t run in the summers.

Clift said Nanaimo residents are lucky there are so many different park locations offering different experiences, and that the city invests in green spaces in the community.

“It’s not something they have to do, it’s something they choose to do,” she said.

The family’s favourite neighbourhood hangout is Mansfield Park in the Townsite neighbourhood, but they haven’t been able to play there for a while because it’s currently under construction. The city has been revamping the area with new playground equipment, benches, picnic tables and other upgrades.

“It’s just nice to have something within walking distance,” said Clift.

Mansfield Park improvements are slated to be complete by the end of June, with summer programs starting in July.

Improvements include two new playground areas with updated equipment. One for  two- to five-year-olds and another for five- to 12-year-olds.

The old wading pool is to be removed and replaced with a new water park with spray features. New benches, picnic tables and garbage cans will also be added.

The city is installing an accessible washroom building, which could have the option of additional space for storage for events held in the park.  Interpretive signs explain the origin of the park’s name and its history and a new trail will wind through the park.

For more information on city parks, please go to and click on parks, recreation and culture.

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