Written by Bill McQuarrie
The Waterfront Community Playgroup Project was again before Port McNeill council as spokespeople, with Leighann Ruel and Jaylene Lancaster explaining why they feel the initiative was important to the Town and should move forward.
Speaking at Tuesday’s (March 23) regular council meeting, Ruel explained how “Port McNeill lacks a clearly defined outdoor gathering or children’s play space that is safe and accessible to all community members and visitors alike.”
She went on to describe how Port McNeill could utilize the harbour front as that “public place where people of all ages could gather,” and felt it would help in creating a vibrant downtown area, adding; “This is just not a playground.”
Using Port McNeill’s most significant (recreational) real estate asset, Ruel felt the project would improve and enhance existing community assets.
“Our proposed project” she explained, would “revitalize the waterfront area to a vibrant community space.” She felt this revitalization would also help attract and retain young families.
Jaylene Lancaster, who was focused on the playground aspects of the proposal, told council that some families are currently forced to take their children to Port Hardy or Port Alice, if they want to enjoy picnics and park activities with their children.
The Waterfront Community Playgroup Project is looking for in-kind support from the town in the form of park space, installation and once completed, general maintenance of the space. Spread over two phases, the equipment costs are estimated to total $60,000 and the group is confident they can raise that money through crowd funding, sponsorships and grants.
Mayor and council were supportive of the concept but advised the group that before moving forward, they must meet with and gain the support of the Harbour Advisory Committee.
In other council news, the Vancouver Island Trail Association (VITA) provided council with an update on the proposed Port McNeill to Cluxewe section of the trail.
The 800km trail is now 80 per cent complete and when finished in 2023, will run along the entire length of the island, from Victoria to Cape Scott. The section that will bring trail users to Port McNeill will run from the town’s campsite to the Cluxewe resort. This local trail segment will require the active cooperation of the Kwakiutl First Nation along with private landowners and the Town of Port McNeill and representatives of the VITA were asking for and received a letter of support from council.
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