White Rock’s revitalized Memorial Park will likely retain much of the existing green space, improve accessibility, include a play area for children and add flexible areas for staging outdoor events, while enlarging and upgrading the current washroom facilities.
That was the impression received by a handful of residents attending a second open house on the waterfront park, held Tuesday at White Rock Community Centre.
The first of the drop-in sessions on the park, held Sept. 14, received an estimated 30 visitors and it appeared attendance for the second would be on par.
Those who did come out this week got a look at updated plans and graphics that reflected public reaction to two conceptual ideas presented at the first drop-in.
One, the linear ‘Railway Siding’ concept, is a nod to history that might include train-themed design elements and could incorporate outside displays of vintage rail artifacts.
The second, the ‘Wave Action’ concept, would employ more curvilinear design elements evoking the oceanside setting, which could include wave-themed public art and bench seating ‘curls’ and walls.
According to Tuesday’s display graphics and discussions between residents, city staffers and members of contracted landscape architect Richard Findlay’s team, the wave-action concept has proven a marginal frontrunner in public reaction.
Project staff have also heard that retention of green space is crucial; that enlarged and upgraded washroom facilities are more important than retaining some curving design elements of the bluff above the pier head; while a possible small water-park section could give children safe play options.
Feedback indicated that people prefer a combination of trees and man-made forms to create shade in the park, and that people are willing to trade parking spaces lost in enlarging the plan for a more functional and accessible amenity.
While Findlay said it is hard to glean a lot of comments from such small samples of the public, a chart asking for visitors to place green stickers to signify approval or disapproval indicates that the project is “heading in the right direction.”
“So far, so good,” he said.
Findlay acknowledged the ultimate Memorial Park plan will likely blend elements from both concepts, guided by public input received through questionnaires circulated at drop-in sessions and online (www.whiterockcity.ca).
“The intention is to use elements from all the plans – there are a million ways to still key (the rail theme) into the park,” he said. “The next battle is going to be the budget – and we have to hit the time and date.”
The city aims to have a revitalized Memorial Park completed in time for Canada Day next year, marking both the 150th anniversary of Confederation and White Rock’s 60th birthday.
Generally, comments from those attending were favourable.
Juanita Vander Zalm said she approved of the plan to lengthen the washrooms, which would be beneficial for young families.
“Greenery is an important factor for people – when you have greenery it’s beautiful and it makes everything look more natural and gives a feeling of community,” she said.
While she said she liked the ‘Wave Action’ concept best, she said she felt there was a place for some historic rail elements to be included for tourist appeal.
Susan and Kris Potzold said they appreciated the effort the city and the landscape architects have made to incorporate public feedback on the project and to explain options.
“They have done a wonderful job of getting it to our level,” Kris Potzold said.
“I also really like that they have maintained a flexible stage area – we have really enjoyed going to concerts there and it has proved that this is a do-able thing.”
“My major concern was originally that we were going to be losing green space. For me, Memorial Park is always that place where the girls sun themselves in bikinis and the boys are playing hacky-sack.”