By Vanessa Broadbent
Now that the new dog park is completed, Oliver’s parks and recreation department is gearing up for the next phase of improvements to Lions Park.
The changes, which include revitalizing the skate park, are part of the department’s park improvement plan which was completed in 2015. While the plan projects goals for all of Oliver’s parks, some of which aren’t predicted to be completed until at least 2025, the changes for Lion’s Park are already underway.
“That was seen as a really high priority by the society and by the community,” director of parks and recreation Carol Sheridan said.
So far, outdoor fitness equipment has been installed in the south end of the park, and the new off-leash dog park opened at the end of October.
Many of Oliver’s seasonal and migrant workers spend time in Lions Park, which Sheridan noted has deterred locals from visiting as well, but she hopes to see a new atmosphere this summer with the changes.
“I think there is definitely a problem at this point with appropriate use of the park, which is why we want to change it so that everybody feels safe there,” she said.
“When it comes to alcohol and drug use, that is not something that I can personally control or that we as park staff can control, but we can try to change the way the park is used that it’s less comfortable for people to think that it’s okay to do that there.”
The next phase of the plan is to renovate the skate park located in the centre of Lions Park, which will include expanding the skate park section and eliminating the BMX park, as well as incorporating parkour features.
“I think the skate park is going to be the big change that we’re waiting for because I feel like if there are more kids and more families using that space it will ultimately have a positive impact on the overall use of the space,” Sheridan said.
However, before the changes to the skate park can even start, Sheridan and her team have over $100,000 of fundraising to complete.
While the majority of the funds will be provided through grants and corporate sponsorship, Oliver’s Legion and Kiwanis Clubs have already committed to supporting the project, and the parks and recreation department will be hosting a few fundraising events over the winter.
The department’s five-year plan also includes seeing another playground and new washroom facility in the south end of the park, as well as adding seating, a fountain and improving the landscaping and pathways.
The department also has plans for Rotary Park in the works, including installing a dock for non-motorized boats, as well as adding seating and storage for boats. However, Sheridan noted that they won’t be underway any time soon.
“At this point there is no project per say, it’s not even in the capital project.”
For now, the department is focussing on improving Lions Park and although the skate park won’t be ready for the upcoming summer, Sheridan still expects to see a change in the dynamic.
“This coming summer, what will be different is there will be more people using the south end and more people using the north end for a dog park,” she said. “Hopefully those residents will be using those places appropriately and setting the tone for how we want that park to be utilized.
“It’s a lovely park and there’s a lot of room for everyone there.”