A team of volunteers and public servants are pitching in to assemble a new playground at the Victoria Courthouse today, creating a fun and interactive play space in the heart of Victoria for people of all ages to enjoy.
The playground assembly team includes members of the B.C. public service, Christ Church Cathedral Parish and School community, Our Place, and former tent city campers.
The 540 square-metre (5,800 square-foot) playground will include equipment chosen by children attending Christ Church Cathedral and Sir James Douglas Elementary schools, and will include swings, slides, climbing nets, a toddler play area and a spinning globe. The redesigned property will feature chess tables, benches and a rubberized safety surface with artistic designs.
The space will include a permanent monument to Canadian Afghanistan veterans. The memorial is a project financed by the Greater Victoria Afghanistan Memorial Project Society, which is currently fundraising to create this memorial. The memorial will be dedicated to all Canadians who served in Afghanistan. It will recognize the families and loved ones of those who served and those who returned with physical and mental wounds, while honouring those Canadian Armed Forces and Public Service of Canada members who paid the supreme sacrifice.
Habitat Systems Incorporated will be on site to guide volunteers through the installation and will conduct a safety inspection following its assembly. For easy assembly, all tools required for the day, including levels, hammers, hand drills, nails and shovels, will be supplied.
A generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has contributed $150,000 toward the cost of the playground equipment. Tire Stewardship B.C. has donated $80,000 toward the rubberized safety surface. The Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services has contributed an additional $50,000 toward the playground.
A playground emerged as the most-popular choice for the block-wide site during discussions with neighbours. The playground is expected to be ready to open to the public this spring, once the rubberized safety surface is poured and landscaping is completed.
Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services –
“I would like to thank today’s volunteers and acknowledge the generosity of our donors who have contributed towards revitalizing the Victoria Courthouse site. Today is about giving back and creating a safe public space and playground that the community can enjoy.”
Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice –
“I’m delighted to see the former lawn of the Victoria Courthouse be transformed into a vibrant new public playground for the neighborhood and for people of all ages to enjoy. The design of the space is more open, allows more light into the property and enhances public safety – and this is a great thing for both the courthouse and this fantastic new playground.”
BGen (Rtd) Joseph E. L. Gollner, OMM, CD, president, Greater Victoria Afghan Memorial Project Society –
“We are proud of what this memorial represents, as a permanent tribute to honour the brave Canadians who died in the service of their country. This serves as a central location for this important memorial, surrounded by the joy of children at play, their families and the strength of community.”
Don Evans, executive director, Our Place –
“It’s wonderful to see some of the people who were once homeless returning today to help build this community playground. It truly shows how having access to proper housing, health care and opportunity can transform lives and instill that desire to give back.”
Stuart Hall, Head, Christ Church Cathedral school –
“This new park and playground will be a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. This park has been designed to serve all ages, from children to seniors, and has the real potential to be a friendly gathering place for the whole community. With so many new families moving into the area, it will be well used. The students of Cathedral school were delighted to be consulted with and are keen to try out their favourite equipment.”
- Consultations for redeveloping the site included local residents, the YMCA, the Christ Church Cathedral and students at Christ Church Cathedral and Sir James Douglas Elementary schools.
- Landscaping will feature 17 new trees, including two maidenhair, one southern catalpa, two Raywood ash, six eastern redbud and six Kwanzan cherry trees.
- In 2015-16, the B.C. government spent close to $5 million to provide housing and shelter for residents of the Victoria courthouse encampment.
- In 2016-17, the Province will spend approximately $28 million, which includes capital costs for the Central Care Home, as well as the Super 8 hotel. This includes $373,000 to Portland Hotel Society (PHS) Community Services for support and outreach services at the encampment site between April and August 2016.
- As of January 2017, more than 260 people from the Victoria courthouse camp are housed at four different housing projects in the region.
- To date, approximately 80 people from the courthouse encampment have moved into permanent housing.
For more information about the Greater Victoria Afghanistan Memorial Society and its campaign to raise funds to create a memorial to Canadian Afghan veterans: https://vicafghanistanmemorial.ca/