It’s a common refrain that people shape the town they live in, but last Wednesday, things took a literal turn in Prince Rupert.
From 3 – 6 p.m., the public was invited out to the west side of town to McKay Street Park.
Currently a derelict and fenced up piece of two-acre property, Transition Prince Rupert led a design feedback session in front of the park that offered three different design graphics representing what the park could turn into.
The designs were created from workshops, stakeholder meetings and pure discussion with residents of the town since fall 2015.
Placemaking expert Mark Lakeman and his team from Seattle helped the McKay Street Park steering committee develop goals and a vision for a sustainable community park, one that is entirely inclusive for Prince Rupert residents. From the ideas of what to include to the design, to the construction of the project, the park is meant to be shaped by the community from the ground up.
“Each design has a lot of the same elements – a covered basketball area, a dog-walking area, a picnic site, skateboard park, community garden and you’ll see they’re organized with a different sort of central feature,” said Ken Shaw, president of leading organizer Transition Prince Rupert, and original proponent of the revitalization project since 2013 last Wednesday.
“What we’re seeing right now is placemaking. Usually what we do with these kinds of projects is just hire someone to design it and then go and build it. We’re getting input so people feel like their voice has been heard,” said Shaw.
“We want to do the construction in a way that people actually play a role in making the place. So whether it’s putting in some of the landscape, the bedding, or assisting some way in the construction, that’s a piece we still have to figure out. The most important part is being part of the idea and it’s creation, [the sense of] ‘This is my park. I did that’.”
Poster boards, questionnaires and stickers were part of Wednesday’s proceedings, as were active and playful kids, that didn’t need the design just yet to have fun in the open space that afternoon.
The three designs were named ‘Commons’, ‘Village’ and ‘Forest’, all with a unique design layout, but share most basic traits.
Design elements include basketball pavilions, dog walking areas, picnic shelters with outdoor kitchen, BMX track, totem carving shed, community centre, public square, swings, skate park, totem poles and a community garden.
“The ideas represented on these designs have been from extensive public engagement over the last year and now we want to continue public engagement – get people’s input on these three designs and then really lock it into one design. From there we’d go into another phase, which is raising a whole bunch of money in the community, doing this bottom-up and seeing if we can get something built in 2017-18,” added Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain.
“I like the basketball pavilion. It’s my favourite part with the big totems. I think that’s needed because this could be an All Native Basketball Tournament training ground all year long, with outdoor basketball you can play 24/7 … I think that’ll be a huge hit if we can get that built,” said the mayor, who was on the Transition Prince Rupert board in 2013.
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice also applauded the design process.
“One of the things we hear a lot in Prince Rupert is there’s nothing for us to do and people complain about the amount of time kids longer around in the malls. We don’t have a lot of covered places, so I like the element of having covered spaces the whole family can go to, like the covered picnic area. Those are the types of features people can take pride in,” she said.
In addition to Transition Prince Rupert, the project so far has been funded by Redesign Rupert, the Port of Prince Rupert, the City of Prince Rupert and DP World, with City Repair, Communitecture, and Caitlin Pope Daum Landscape Architecture behind the designs.
For those who missed Wednesday’s session the poster board designs will be on display at Northern Savings Credit Union and visit the Facebook page Transition Prince Rupert for a link to an online questionnaire about the three designs.
Lakeman’s team at City Repair is expected to take the feedback and present a final design in November.