The Kimberley Adventure Park (KAP) at Swan Avenue is closer to becoming a reality, with park planners having secured funding and support from many different organizations.
Two Kimberley parents, Todd Larsen and Jeff Rees, have been working to develop plans for a nature-based park in the Swan Ave. area of Kimberley since January of last year.
On Monday, January 13, they presented an update to Kimberley City Council on the park’s progress.
Larsen explained that he and Rees both live in the Swan Subdivision, and they both have kids who love to play outside.
“We saw an opportunity to develop the City’s vacant green space behind the Swan Avenue basketball and hockey rink,” he said. “Right away we knew we wanted something simple. We knew that we didn’t want it to be made of plastic or metal. With our kids especially, we found that they tend to play more on rocks and logs; natural features. It seems like the simpler, the better.”
He went on to say that he and Rees have consulted local experts to research parks that promote physical literacy, or adventure play, and create a space where imaginations can thrive.
Larsen says that their official sponsoring organization is Healthy Kimberley.
“We’ve been working with Healthy Kimberley because the park proposal really aligns with their objectives to develop, promote, and maintain physical literacy from an early age,” Larsen explained, adding that they are also working with a designer for draft designs. Both of these sources will help to shape the park going forward.
Larsen says that the park will be unlike any in the area thanks to its design.
“This will be one of the most unique parks in the region with its forward-thinking utilization of space, elements of adventure, and a focus on inclusive, accessible and intergenerational play,” he said in the presentation to Council.
Larsen and Rees say that the park will include a zip-line, climbing structures, tunnel and cave, musical instruments, a sand and water area, barbecue and picnic area, stage, gazebo and more.
“This space will appeal to children, youth, adults, community, special events and others,” they wrote. “The central location makes it an ideal gathering place, which is a current community demand. The public support for this project has been very positive, as evidenced with the varied letters of support and attendance at the Community Engagement Session.”
On October 5, 2019, the Park Committee hosted a community engagement event that was sponsored by the Columbia Basin Trust, Save On Foods and Cobs Bakery. Over 250 people attended the event, which served as an opportunity for community members to learn more about the park project and provide direct input on the five draft design options and multiple possible features presented.
“The park designers attended for the duration of the event, which provided further engagement into the process,” Larsen and Rees explained. “The event was a huge success!”
The estimated cost of the park is over $160,000. Funding in the form of grants, in-kind support and letters of support have already been applied for or received.
Larsen says they have received more than 12 letters of support from community groups and businesses, including but not limited to, the City of Kimberley, Healthy Kimberley, Teck, Spirit Rock Climbing Centre, Border Holdings and Tyee.
They have also received more than $12,000 (combined) in grant funding from Columbia Basin Trust, the Regional District of East Kootenay, the Kimberley and District Community Foundation and the City of Kimberley Community Grant. Many other funding avenues and applications are being processed at this time as well.
“There’s a lot of interest in the park but we also had to make sure the land owners (City of Kimberley) are keen,” said Larsen, which they are. “One of the things they mentioned is the maintenance going forward, since they do own the park. We’re looking at ways of making it as maintenance-friendly as possible. Council was pleased with the fact that the land is already zoned for green space, and it aligns with their recreation strategy.”
He adds that the proposed park is located in an area that connects to trails, the nature park, and is centrally located in the City, which Council is happy about.
The park designers are also currently finalizing computer renderings of the park designs, which will help to identify costs and building specifications.
“The next steps are to really focus on fundraising and grant applications,” said Larsen. “We’ve already been successful with a few, and we are hopeful that our application to CBT’s $25,000 PLAYS initiative grant will be successful as well.”
At Monday’s Council meeting, Larsen and Rees asked Council to be the official proponents for another grant application with CBT, the Community Outdoor Revitalization Grant.
The City of Kimberley was already successful in receiving this grant last year for upgrades to the Platzl. Council says they will have to consider Larsen and Rees’ proposal, as they may not be able to commit to being the official proponent.
Council will have to make a decision soon however, because applications close at the end of the month.
“All in all we’re really pleased with the amount of support we’ve received from the community,” said Larsen. He adds that community members and businesses alike have offered to help, whether it be with time, expertise, tools or materials.
“We’re overwhelmed with how supportive everyone has been. We hope we can continue to spread the word and make this a reality.”
Construction is anticipated to begin in spring of this year, and completion of the park is slated for late 2020 or spring 2021.
If anyone is interested in getting involved, contact Todd Larsen or Jeff Rees through the Kimberley Adventure Park Facebook page, or contact Healthy Kimberley.