Discussions on the revitalization of a rundown park on McKay Street and Kootenay Avenue started last week.
The site, owned by the City of Prince Rupert, is located adjacent to BC Housing developments Harbour View Gardens and Kootenay Place and contains a neglected, overgrown baseball field, a small asphalt pad with a basketball hoop, as well as the Kaien Anti-Poverty Society (KAPS) community garden.
Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain facilitated an informal conversation on the restoration of the park last week, using Transition Prince Rupert’s Local Food and Garden Series as a forum to gather input.
More than 35 people were in attendance, providing suggestions on potential uses for the property that included adding greenhouses and additional gardens, having a natural play space for children, creating a soccer field or restoring the former baseball field, improving the basketball court, adding an amphitheatre or fire pit, and more.
While a committee including representatives from the city, Transition Prince Rupert, KAPS, the Salmonberry Trading Company Society, the Prince Rupert Ministerial Association, Salvation Army has already formed to oversee the project, the hope is that volunteers from the area will step up and take over the initiative.
Brain stated a project coordinator would be hired for a short-term duration to lead work, but it would be volunteers carrying it out.
“The intention here is that we want to build a community team … we want to do this together and for the neighbourhood to be part of the designing and process. We want the neighbourhood to feel this is their project,” he said.
Because the city doesn’t currently have the capacity to maintain the site, it plans to sell the property to a community group for one dollar, which would take over liability and look after it until the city is in a position to do so. With this in mind, the park will be designed to be easily maintained.
Coun. Barry Cunningham attended the event and said an important factor in planning for the project is talking to those residing near the park to determine what they would like to see it used for.
“They’re probably not well-represented here,” said Cunningham, noting there are lots of children living in the area.
“The whole thing should have a kid theme.”
Colleen Hermanson of KAPS, who was also at the event, said based on the society’s experiences getting the neighbourhood’s children involved shouldn’t be an issue, but said it has been more difficult engaging adults.
The next step of the plans will be speaking to those residing near the property in a door-to-door campaign and undertaking a survey to get feedback.
Then, funding to hire a designer will be secured, with Brain stating the Prince Rupert Port Authority has already expressed interest.
“The port is very interested in helping to fund this particular piece. The city is also looking at an alternative funding source,” he explained, noting there is money in Prince Rupert Legacy being set aside for city initiatives like this.
Once a draft design is complete, it will be brought forward for feedback.
Brain said the goal is to start the project this summer.