Jeffrey Hamel

Nanaimo family spearheads playground upgrades

NANAIMO – Fundraiser takes place on Sunday (June 14) at Westdale-Leslie Park.

Tucked in amongst the big homes and lush lawns of Nanaimo’s north end sits Westdale-Leslie Park.

It’s a place that has seen better days.

The play structure’s colours have faded and the aging swing set often remains idle.

But it could soon have a new lease on life, thanks in part to the efforts of one community group led by Sandra Hamel, who lives directly behind the park.

“It’s a lovely location,” Hamel said. “You can see the ocean and there is a large grassy area, but the park equipment is really old.”

On Sunday (June 14) Westdale-Leslie Park will be the site of a large fundraiser called Sunday Fun Day, which is aimed at raising roughly $20,000 for the Westdale Park Project.

“It’s not attracting the children as it should,” Hamel said. “The kids don’t see it as fun.”

The fundraiser, which also includes a garage sale and silent auction on Catalina Drive, features bouncy castles, face painting, craft making, a bake sale and much more. Children will also have the unique opportunity to paint a car donated by B.C. Auto Wreckers.

The idea to refurbish the Westdale-Leslie Park came after Hamel’s daughter asked a simple question last summer.

“My daughter said ‘Mommy, can we get a new park?’ and so I started researching it,” she said.

Hamel then became involved with Volunteers in the Park, a public participation program offered by the City of Nanaimo, and organized the Westdale Park Project, a plan to revitalize the aging space.

In April, the city earmarked $30,000 for the project and while Country Grocer and the Investors Group have donated money toward it, Hamel says they still need $20,000.

Upgrades will include a new entrance and a hard court surface that could be used for both basketball and hockey.

Plans for the park call for two new play structures with one designed for toddlers.

“Currently there really is no toddler playground in this area,” Hamel said.(Story continues below)

Photo by Nicholas Pescod/News Bulletin

Westdale-Leslie Park’s proposed upgrades shown above.

Westdale-Leslie Park was constructed in 1993 through the Volunteers in the Park program. Hamel said with new people moving into the area it is time for an upgrade.

“There are new families coming in and they need a new park,” Hamel said.

Sunday Fun Day takes place at Westdale-Leslie Park, located on the corner of Leslie Crescent and Westdale Road, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. A garage sale will be at 5265 Catalina Dr. Admission is by a donation of $6.

For more information, please visit or call 250-391-4832.

Additional information about the Westdale Park Project can be found at

arts@nanaimobulletin.comFollow @npescod on Twitter

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