Park Strategy Approval Sets Stage for Playground Removal
Prince George, B.C.- Prince George City Council has approved the Park Strategy which calls for the removal of equipment from a number of playgrounds in the City.
The Park Strategy has been in the works for more than a year during which time there has been considerable public consultation. The public told Parks staff they want more access to the rivers and trail connectivity. With a number of playgrounds having equipment that no longer meet CSA standards, and some that are in areas where there are other facilities available, the decision was made to dismantle a number of playgrounds, rather than pay ( on average) $75 thousand dollars per playground to refurbish the sites.
The plan means, that at the end of 5 years, the City will have reduced its playgrounds from the current 66, to 48.
Parks staff say some of the sites could be repurposed as “maintaining open lawn areas for a number of activities, natural sites with open walking routes to access other areas of a neighbourhood, or, if considered “surplus” coule be sold and the proceeds put towards upgrading or maintaining other higher priority parks.
Members of Council received numerous emails from residents in College Heights concerned this strategy was linked to the future of Eton Park. That park has sparked concern as there is a developer looking to build a subdivision for seniors housing in a portion of that property. Mayor Hall made it clear the strategy is not tied to that specific issue, and any potential changes to that park would have to go through a process that would be put before Council before there are any changes to the use of the land.
Mayor Hall says the Park strategy is similar to the work being done in assessing infrastructure such as Fire Hall Number 1, and other recreational facilities “We’ve talked a lot about infrastructure, and infrastructure is not, as I’ve said several times, the pipes underground, It’s our buildings, it’s our parks, really everything we own.” The Mayor adds “It’s important work to be done so that we can identify where short falls are, what work we have to put into it, and as Sean (LeBrun, Parks Manager) has asked many times, more money.” The Mayor says if there is any property that is considered surplus it will head back to Council “That’s the safety net piece that I like. It’s no different than what we did a few years ago with tennis courts. Tennis courts that were really in bad repair. The asphalt was heaving, cracked, we were attempting to try and maintain them. So Council had an opportunity to participate in the process.”
Council has also given the green light to an assessment of all the ball diamonds and sport fields in the City. That work is expected to be complete later this year.