Black Creek kids and parents will soon be gathering at a newly improved playground, as the community is one of three winners in a province-wide contest for a $100,000 play space revitalization.
The Black Creek Community Centre Playground, along with Sayward School Playground and Oliver Small Wheels Playground, each were awarded the funds as the top three winners in the BCAA Play Here Competition.
“It’s so exciting … it means that the community connection is still so alive and well,” explained Dana Starritt, executive director of the Black Creek Community Association. “It’s something everyone can relate to – it’s a fun, safe place to play, and it means so much.”
BCAA’s Play Here contest identified play spaces around B.C. in need of revitalization. At the end of the contest period on June 23, the three play spaces, as voted by British Columbians, received upgrade work worth up to $100,000 and the remaining finalists received runner-up prizes of $30,000 (fourth place), $20,000 (fifth place), and $10,000 (sixth place).
Starritt said the anticipation waiting for the contest to close – particularly within the remaining hours – was at an all-time high, as votes flipped between the Black Creek and Sayward playgrounds.
She credited both communities for rallying enough votes to win.
“It’s really amazing. Not only did two Island communities win, but two north Island communities – we’re not even in an urban core. It shows when you’ve got a community that rallies, that’s really the most important thing.”
In Sayward, the school’s parent advisory council has been fundraising for a new playground for more than five years as the current site is almost 25 years old.
“The majority of the structure is constructed from wood which is deteriorating as it ages,” the school’s submission says.
The current Black Creek playground is around 30 years old, with rotting lumber and weathered, rusted metal components. Starritt noted the new playground will mean the community has a refreshed, safe gathering place.
“Black Creek is a rural community – it’s just a stretch of highway between Courtenay and Campbell River – there’s no downtown, so the playground is really a significant place for families and friends to get together; it’s something everyone can relate to.”
Nearly 200,000 votes were cast in the contest. Within the next few months, BCAA will work closely with the three winning finalists on customized designs.
Starritt said she has already set up a meeting for the initial assessment of the space and hopes to have some work completed on the playground by the Black Creek Fall Fair in early September.
– With files from Mike Chouinard