Overcast skies could not stop the smiles of children, Parksville Lions Club members, Rotarians and many others during the official opening of the new splash park in the Lions Ventureland Playground on Friday, June 22.
Children were already at play in the splash park equipment as Lions club member Mike Garland thanked the many donors and partners who gave money and/or time to complete the $300,000 park. That included Mid-Island Co-op which donated $30,000 (the largest single donation), as well as Kai Carleton and Cooper Lotzien who donated $150 from their lemonade stand sales and were quite eager to play in the spray after the ceremony.
“I love it,” said Lotzien, dripping wet after taking a run through the park. “I think it’s really fun,” added Carleton. “There’s so many fun things to do in the water.”
Garland recounted how the Lions had been making plans to upgrade the splash park in 2017 when members found that it no longer met Island Health standards.
“We all went back to the drawing board,” he said, knowing the endeavour would be quite expensive.
The City of Parksville committed to providing $200,000 of the total budget for the park, with Parksville Rotary AM offering to help the Lions with fundraising the remaining $100,000.
Over the course of 2017, many local companies and groups donated money to the cause, while the clubs sold 50/50 tickets and candied salmon at the Summer by the Sea Street Market Tuesday evenings.
In total, $118,000 was raised, with the extra money to go toward maintaining the park.
On hand at the opening were Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre and Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell who noted the importance of the Parksville Community Park and the Lions Ventureland Playground not only to those in Parksville, but to the surrounding communities and tourists from far and wide.
“Everyone comes here because of what the Lions have done here in this park,” said Stilwell.
Lefebvre recounted meeting a grandmother at the park, who said, “‘I came here with my kids, and now my kids are coming here with their kids.’”
“There’s a lot of third-generation kids coming to play here,” said Lions club member and park chair James Barrand.
“The new park is far safer than the old one,” he said, noting that it should last for 15 to 20 years.
The splash park equipment includes dunk buckets, a spray tunnel, piano keys that play sound and spray water, water blasters and more.
“It’s really a pleasure to see the young kids here,” said Barrand of watching Carleton, Lotzien and others enjoy the splash park. “It’s kind of emotional.”