A socially inclusive playground could replace the current playdock at Maffeo Sutton Park. (The News Bulletin)

Million-dollar accessible playground envisioned at Maffeo Sutton Park

The Socially Inclusive Park Project has an idea for a playground to replace the current playdock

Nanaimo’s signature park could be getting one of the best playgrounds in B.C.

At Monday’s committee of the whole meeting, the Rotary Club of Nanaimo and a group called the Socially Inclusive Park Project presented an idea for an accessible playground to replace the playdock at Maffeo Sutton Park.

Scott Bradford, executive director of the Nanaimo Child Development Centre, explained the idea of a socially inclusive park.

“That’s where people of all abilities would feel welcome in a place that’s well-thought-out, not just for those with physical challenges, but … tactile, audio, all the different dimensions of learning and social integration,” he said.

He noted that it wouldn’t just be a playground for kids with disabilities, but also for adults and an aging population to be able to play with the children.

Rotarian Dave Hammond said the Rotary Club of Nanaimo wishes to partner on the playground as a signature project for the club’s 100th anniversary, and since it was chartered in 1920, the hope is for a spring 2020 completion date. He asks that adjacent to the playground, there can be an area that recognizes Rotary and is created to be a peaceful space.

The Socially Inclusive Park Project group – the CDC, Nanaimo Association for Community Living and PacificSport – is thinking big with the playground.

“It’s going to require significant investment in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our big, hairy goal is $1 million,” Bradford said. “And with that, we would have probably B.C.’s most socially inclusive park. Something that we would be very proud of.”

Rotary has committed to being able to come up with $200,000 and Bradford said he’s encouraged by conversations he’s had with other potential partners and sponsors.

“We think there’s some matching, we think there’s some corporate, we think there’s grants and foundations that are out there. We haven’t even started that yet,” he said.

Richard Harding, the city’s director of parks, recreation and environment, said including the 2018 draft financial plan, $364,000 has been allocated toward replacing the playdock at Maffeo Sutton Park.

Coun. Bill Bestwick asked if the spring 2020 timeline is realistic and Harding said he thinks it is.

“For a number of years, we’ve identified that the playground needs to be redone…” Harding said. “I think there needs to be some work done and we see that starting in 2018.”

Hammond and Bradford stressed that no specific planning has taken place yet and that the partners will continue to communicate with the city.

The presentation followed a Maffeo Sutton Park master plan update at Monday’s meeting.

“We’ve certainly heard from this table tonight that people are interested in moving this plan forward,” said Coun. Ian Thorpe. “And so if we can get it approved quickly … and then Mr. Harding could come back to us with some quick wins, this [accessible playground] could be at the top of the list as a priority to get done.”

Council unanimously supported Coun. Jerry Hong’s motion for city staff to work with the project partners to develop a plan for an all-inclusive playground.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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