Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation suggests that existing infrastructure at Centennial Park could be leveraged to provide an all-abilities

Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation suggests that existing infrastructure at Centennial Park could be leveraged to provide an all-abilities

All-abilities park eyed for Centennial

Network of parks and trails would link to future 'interactive play space' planned for the East Beach waterfront

An all-abilities park proposed by Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation for White Rock’s Centennial Park is not in conflict with a similar proposal for the East Beach area.

Rather it is envisioned in the context of a network of trails and parks that would eventually link the two all-abilities parks.

That was the message delivered to White Rock council last week by foundation executive director Stephanie Beck and Geoff Funke, vice-chair of the board of directors.

Myra Merkal – who was in attendance – and her son, White Rock firefighter Evan Bird, have been championing an all-abilities park for the East Beach waterfront for the past six years, with fundraising events that include an annual princess party (see page 11).

Beck and Funke acknowledged and paid tribute to Merkal and Bird’s initiative in their presentation, saying they see the hospital foundation proposal as complementary to the East Beach project, which has been described as “an interactive play space for all ages and abilities.”

They said it would be in keeping with the city’s strategic plan for a healthy community, endorsed in 2015, which called for “health-enabling built and natural environments.”

“We view it as Phase 1 of an overall parks system linking Centennial Park and East Beach,” Funke said, adding that creating an all-abilities, all-ages park in Centennial Park would be “a fantastic addition to current park infrastructure.”

Beck said the park proposal would “leverage and enhance current infrastructure” in the park – including sports, arts and cultural facilities and the Centre for Active Living – as well as take advantage of ravine trails and accessible paths and adequate parking and washroom facilities on the site.

Beck and Funke said that, with council approval, the foundation would begin community fundraising for an estimated $900,000 budget for the park – and requested council consider contributing some $300,000 of the overall budget.

Council approved a motion by Coun. Lynne Sinclair that staff report back on potential budget sources for a $300,000 contribution and other issues involved in creating such a park, including ongoing maintenance.