Twenty-three years ago, the Lions Club gave the city the wooden playground equipment for Mariner’s Park and this year they are ready to replace the aged toys with a shiny new playground.
Ready to write a cheque for the equipment — ideally by spring, hopefully by summer — the Lions Club has been told to wait for the city to adopt its 2017 budget in mid-May.
However, budgeting the removal of the old park and the installation of the new park may be a moot point if the project is a pure volunteer effort said Ken Lippett, the secretary treasurer of the CMAW Local Union 1735 Construction Prince Rupert.
“As long as it’s 100 per cent volunteers and it’s organized, we can find people but we need assurances,” Lippett said, adding that just because the carpenters union is giving free labour doesn’t mean the engineer or cement driver still gets paid.
The carpenters union organized five or six unemployed members to volunteer their time to build the structure around the Kazu Maru Memorial at Mariner’s Park. Lippett said that when the carpenters found out that their in-kind service enabled the electrician to get paid, they walked away.
“It’s the assumption that we’re there to be taken advantage of,” he said. But if everyone is on board to donate their time, the union can find people to do the work.
In the past six months the Lions Club has raised $100,000 for the playground equipment. Fundraising efforts include the most recent Blue Knuckle Derby and other ticket sales over the past year.
“Half the existing structure has been removed because of safety concerns and it’s not really a function of the park anymore. We know there’s lots of demand in town for a kids tot park,” Paul Rajandram of the Prince Rupert Lions Club said.
The vision for the new park is to expand its size by 15 per cent and to incorporate accessible toys for children with mobility challenges. Pea gravel will be replaced with a rubberized surface.
The park will have a nautical theme to enhance the harbour view. The location is one of the first viewpoints for tourists once they leave their cruise ship.
The Lions Club has already met with the city works department for preliminary planning and the mayor provided a letter of support when the club applied for community funding from the Port of Prince Rupert.
“We’ve asked the city for removal of the existing structure and installation of the new structures,” Rajandram said.
In response to whether or not the city will support the project, and in time for warmer weather, the city stuck to its budget timeline.
“Funding commitments are not made until the 2017 budget is adopted by council in mid-May, so it would be premature to comment on this project prior to then,” Veronika Stewart said, the communications manager for the City of Prince Rupert.