Construction of Davies Street Park in Fairview began in 2009, and three years later the community could see steps taken towards the completion of the park.
City staff and council met with neighbours at Davies Street Park earlier this month to get feedback about how the city should spend the remaining $120,000 for the park.
“The budget was $675,000 and there was about $450,000 so we knew we’d be short about $200,000 or $300,000,” said city manager Kevin Cormack at the public meeting. “Hopefully we’ll get a service group on board to help make up for that shortfall. We have the $120,000 and the goal of the meeting is to hear from the community about where they would like to see the next investment in the park and what those priorities should be.”
Staff recommended that top three priorities be purchasing playground equipment, construct washroom facilities and $15,000 to $20,000 be spent on work such as installing lighting, proving parking, planting trees and grading work.
Neighbours were given six stickers to indicate their priorities.
While many people’s votes aligned with the suggestions of city staff, many people opposed the construction of washrooms at Davies Street Park.
“I guess my one concern is that we had a public meeting with the people up there, and the neighbourhood technically voted and washrooms were way down on the list,” said councillor Bob Adams.
According to a report from staff after the public meeting, 15 people voted in favour of installing washrooms.
“There are things that we can do in the park to make it neater, nicer and better developed that don’t include washrooms,” said Adams. “We do have lots of parks that don’t have washrooms Chatham Street park and none of the school playgrounds have washrooms even though the schools close at 3:30 p.m. There are playgrounds at Hume School and South Nelson that kids play on all the time and I guess if kids have to go to the washroom their parents take them home.”
Adams also voiced concerns about what the washrooms would mean in terms of maintenance costs.
“This park will be mostly playgrounds and I think the people who use the washrooms will be the bikers that come down from the trail,” he said. “They’ll use it but how much is this going to add to the parks budget for maintenance with winter shut down and summer start up, it’s all going to cost money and I’d rather spend the money in the park for what people want. That’s why we had the meeting.”
Councillor Deb Kozak was sympathetic to the concerns around the washrooms but said living near Lions Park when the washrooms were often locked, she had parents bringing their children to her house asking to use the washroom.
“I can understand that the neighbourhood might have concerns about washrooms, however the times that the washrooms are open are controlled,” said Kozak. “They are also monitored and there are people living in very close proximity to the park, so I think if something was happening to the washrooms there would be a quick call to the city.”
Davies Street Park is intended to be a destination park providing amenities to appeal to the broader community.
“Whenever we create a destination park it is important to have washrooms for people because where else are they going to go?” said Kozak. “If you provide amenities in the park and there are children and adults and people are enjoying the outdoors in that way, then people need a place to go to the washroom.”