What started off as a dream nearly a decade ago turned into reality Saturday afternoon.
The City of White Rock officially opened an all-abilities park in the city.
Through partnership with the White Rock Firefighters’ Charity Association and the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation (PAHF), the park, located at the northern edge of Ruth Johnson Park, was a “long-time coming.”
Named Generations Playground, the $900,000 park features a zip-line, adult exercise equipment, and a plethora of playground structures for children.
PAHF funded $675,000 of the project in collaboration with the firefighters’ charity association, and the city kicked in $225,000.
The plan of an all-abilities park first gained momentum in 2009 when White Rock resident Myra Merkel and her son, firefighter Evan Bird, began raising money for a park in East Beach through annual White Rock Princess Party events.
Merkel spoke to attendees at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday, and told Peace Arch News afterwards that she was “elated” with the new playground.
“This is a dream,” Merkel said.
Merkel noted the PAHF plan, in partnership with the firefighters’ charity association and city, for a three-phase concept that would bring a second all-abilities park to East Beach.
The plan, according to the PAHF website, is to connect Generations Playground to a yet-to-be-built all-abilities park in East Beach via a pathway through Duprez Ravine Trial, located in Ruth Johnson Park.
Merkel said a lack of land availability is currently one of the barriers with second all-abilities park in East Beach.
During her remarks to the crowd, which were repeated to PAN, Merkel thanked all volunteers, contributors and partners who made the Generations Playground come to fruition.
It’s official! “Generations Playground” – the City’s first All Abilities & All Ages Playground is open! Many thanks to our partners @pahfoundation & the White Rock Firefighters Charity Association! Learn more here: https://t.co/N7N6jZoz1J pic.twitter.com/WCwowvA0Er
— City of White Rock (@whiterockcity) September 1, 2018
White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin told attendees of the ceremony that the city continues to work towards an all-abilities park in East Beach.
“In the meantime, the Peace Arch Hospital Community Health Foundation made us an offer that we could not refuse,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said that his wife noticed that the colour scheme of the new playground is similar to that of a rainbow.
“We all know that the rainbow is kind of like the colour of all inclusion, so everybody can be included. How perfect is that?” Baldwin said, which was followed by applause from the crowd.
Semiahmoo House Society board of directors member Alexander Magnussen told PAN that the park is “long overdue.”
Magnussen secured a $10,000 grant through the federal Enabling Accessibility Fund for the project.
“This brings so many generations together,” Magnussen said. “This really shows that White Rock values all people.”
Magnussen noted that the design and layout of the park “really took into account” accessibility and safety for all users.
The name of the park was selected through a naming contest, which was won by Marilyn Fransen.