Alberni does about face by okaying funds for Weaver Park re-build

Alberni city council has loaned $22,000 to the group pushing for a new playground at Weaver Park.

Port Alberni city council has changed its mind and decided to help the community group pushing for a new playground at Weaver Park.

Port Alberni city council voted unanimously on Monday to loan the group $22,000 to complete the project.

The money will be underwritten with funds from the Parks and Recreation reserve fund, with $11,000 earmarked as a direct contribution. The group will have to fundraise to pay back the remaining $11,000.

The money augments the $22,000 the group has raised so far. They were also awarded $35,000 matching grant from Let Them Be Kids.

“The group has a proven track record of fundraising,” Parks and Recreation director Scott Kenny told councillors of the community group.

“We could not build this playground for $11,000 on our own.”

The money will be used to install play equipment.

Build day for the park is Nov. 12; site preparation will begin as soon as possible.

Sand or bark mulch will initially be used as a base at the playground and a permanent rubber compound safety mat will be installed next year.

Some amenities had to be forgone in order to get in under budget but those items can be fundraised for and added next year, Kenny said.

The group is planning several fundraising events, spokesperson Brenda Patterson told councillors. And they are trying to partner with a non-profit agency, which will give them the ability to apply for grants they previously couldn’t access.

The development was far different from the response at the last city council meeting where the group was encouraged to come back next year even though there was time pressure to use existing funding.

“I was worried that the city wouldn’t support this but they did and it’s a relief,” group spokesperson Brenda Patterson said. “Our next step now is to raise the rest of the funds we need.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com