Regional District of Nanaimo staff recently visited sites in Nanoose Bay that could be considered for a natural playground in the community.
A staff report was presented to the Electoral Area E parks and open space advisory committee meeting on Sept. 13 and it included suitability analyses of Amelia Crescent Community Park, Stone Lake Drive Community Park and Claudet Road Community Park.
The idea to create a natural playground came from Nanoose Bay residents, who requested the regional district look at this alternative at a new location to replace the dismantled playground infrastructure at the Nanoose Community Park.
The Stone Lake Drive Community Park is 2.96 acres in size and has trails, fenced retention ponds installed by the developer, a park entry sign and RDN water services on site. But staff indicated it may be suitable only for a small natural playground pilot project, although it is located with the neighbourhood, which the residents prefer. It can be walked or biked to.
However, it has no room for off-road parking development and the existing retention ponds limit further site development. It could also be a safety concern.
The Claudet Road location offers a larger potential park development area of around 10 acres. It also has existing trails, a parking lot, fencing, a garbage can, toilet, picnic table and signage. It is highly suitable for a multi-amenity park development that could include a natural playground, sport courts and pump track.
It is centrally located within the Nanoose Bay neighbourhoods that expressed interest in the playground. It also has room to expand parking if needed. The only drawback is, users are less likely to walk to this park and will be more prone to using their cars to get there.
RDN staff also reviewed similar natural playgrounds in other jurisdictions, such as the Meadowood Way Community Park in Electoral Area F and Henry Morgan Community Park in Electoral Area H.
The committee will review the studies to consider if one of them maybe be included in the parks work plan. Parks staff will undertake community consultation that will include letters to be sent to to Area E residents and neighbours to determine the type of play elements they prefer and where they could be placed.
Based on the public input and feeback, the RDN will develop a conceptual design option, which the public will again be required to look at to provide input and approval.
The RDN will also be required to allocate funds for site survey, design and installation. Parks staff will be asked to explore opportunities for funding and grants, if they are available.