Two Vancouver parks are getting a new lease on life.
Park board commissioners this week approved a new playground at Douglas Park.
The playground was slated for renewal due to its age — many of the components are more than 25 years old. A 2015 assessment of play spaces included a number of recommendations around playground renewals, including making the spaces accessible, inclusive, challenging, inspired by nature and useable year round.
The design for the new Douglas Park playground includes a new zip line, sand and water play areas, a tree platform and restoration of the existing climbing boulder. The design, which was developed by park board staff in collaboration with the Douglas Park Playground Committee, includes a focus on making the playground as welcoming as possible for children with autism with a quiet area, nature themes and tones, and fencing to help caregivers monitor children.
“The history of the park site is symbolically woven into the design of the new playground,” staff said in a report. “A sand paly area is bordered by a low fence and a rubberized berm with log climbing structure. The logs and berm represents the beaver dam that began the evolution of the Douglas Park landscape following the last ice age.”
The cost of the $759,056 playground is partly covered by a $480,000 donation from the Douglas Park Community Centre Association.
“We’re very pleased to make that donation,” Dale Leibel, from the association, told park board commissioners.
Amanda Murphy, a teacher at Douglas Park Preschool, told the board the park is her outdoor classroom and emphasized the need to have natural spaces in the city where children can play and explore.
“It’s so important to bring those spaces into the community,” she said.
Construction of the new playground is slated to start next month and be substantially completed in July.
Park board commissioners also unanimously approved a $700,000-renewal project for Renfrew Ravine Park and Renfrew Community Park, which includes Still Creek, the longest of the few visible creeks remaining in the city.
The creek runs through both parks with almost one kilometre still visible. Alex Man-Bourdon, a park board landscape architect and arborist, told commissioners that 65 per cent of the creek is day lit and salmon have been seen in some areas.
The project includes accessible connections to ravine trails, building an elevated boardwalk into the Still Creek ecosystem, new stairs and a creek crossing, and a small off-leash dog park.
While he voted in favour of the upgrades, Non-Partisan Association commissioner John Coupar voiced some concerns over the safety of making the creek and the ravine easier to access.
“I will support this proposal. I do have a couple reservations…,” he said. “It’s great to get people down to the water and into nature and I think that’s one of the things we really try to do but we want to make sure that we’re doing it so that people are being safe, especially young adults. So I would like to see some discussion with VPD and Vancouver Fire Rescue around accessibility down to that area.”
Construction will begin in May. Because the work, especially in the ravine, is within the floodplain there is a short window for work, Man-Bourdon told commissioners. The instream work has to be completed by Sept. 1 and the rest of the project should be substantially completed by Oct. 1.